File Under: search, Web Basics

See the World Through the Eyes of Google Images

Dutch artist Sebastien Schmieg has elevated the Google Image search from its humble intent, creating a short film that strings together a series of image searches. The result oscillates between the prosaic and profound, and feels more like a grand homage to humanity than a collection of random images.

To create the image sequence Schmieg fed a single transparent PNG into Google Images and used the “visually similar” feature to recursively loop through the results. Schmieg’s movie of the results, entitled Search by Image, Recursively, Transparent PNG, #1, is a (slightly NSFW) truly hypnotic, algorithmic tour of life as Google Images knows it.

In all there are some 2,951 images in the video. The “visually similar” option in Google Image Search tends to get stuck in loops using it the way Schmieg did so if an image had already been used in the sequence, he would skip to the next image in the results. But otherwise the sequence is entirely algorithmic. Beware pareidolia.

For more info about the movie and some other, similar efforts, be sure to check out Schmieg’s website.