While most of us have been using Google Image Search to download wallpapers of our favorite bands or ogle at shady vintage porn, Sebastian Schmieg has been conducting an experiment. Schmieg—a student of Visual Communication in Berlin—inputs a transparent .png with a size of 400×225 and waits. The result? Two thousand, nine hundred and fifty one images in just over four minutes.
This clip Search By Image, Recursively, Transparent PNG, #1 is fairly self-explanatory. The first image that comes up is then put back into Google Image Search to find the next one and thus the cycle continues. In order to prevent loops, he takes the next highest image in case the images are the same. It’s certainly fun to see what kind of wacky trajectories the images follow; from images taken by the Hubble space telescope to Lucy Lawless in Spartacus to hand-drawn internet memes to commercial images of cars, clothing and cameras for sale.
The beauty about this experiment is that it takes film back to its most fundamental form; a series of images flashed up as a montage. It is not the intellectual might of the internet goblins that gives this film its meaning, it is Schmieg and his careful control of the input and it is the viewer—us—whose instinct says there is meaning to be had.