ATLAS_v7.jpg
2015_v1.jpg

Weigang Song

What images might Google identify as the best visual equivalent of previously unpublished images?

This atlas begins with clean digital photographs (JPEGs with no associated metadata) of five paintings by the emerging Chinese artist Mengli Qi. The resulting matches for these virgin images reveal startling cross-cultural affiliations of content, form, and memes. More perplexing, perhaps, they are also evidence of the peculiar intelligence of what has become, in this specific case,
a compromised algorithm: with no web-generated metadata to guide it, Google’s “search by image” function is operating purely on the basis of pixelated visuality. It is unclear whether the algorithm is rendered legally blind, or purely visual. To extend the game, users of this atlas can simply click on any of the found images, which as this point are laden with metadata.