Sometimes, as you’re walking through a crowded street, or as you brush by people, you catch a glimpse of the conversations they’re having – a few words, a single sentence at most. Whenever this happens, I can’t help but extrapolate the rest of the conversation, the subject, what the people in it are like. It seems like I’m not the only one, as two Dutch film makers have used the accidentally leaked search query records of 2006 as inspiration for a series of short films. Tantalising voyeurism.
In August 2006, AOL Research accidentally released a compressed text file containing the search queries of over 650000 users, made over a three month period. A privacy nightmare, but also an invaluable resource for people interested in what people are searching for on the internet.
Two Dutch film makers, Sander Plug and Lernery Engelberts, used the search queries of user 711391, and turned them into a series of short videos titled “I Love Alaska“. The videos are deceptively simple, with a computerised voice reading aloud the individual search queries in chronological order, supported by shots of Alaska landscapes.
Out of these individual queries, a picture starts to form in your imagination, a picture of who user 711391 is, what she does, the problems she faces, the choices she has to make; you get three second snapshots of her life, and it’s your job to fill in the blanks. It’s kind of like my single-sentence voyeurism.
I Love Alaska – Episode 1/13 from SubmarineChannel on Vimeo.
Thirteen episodes have been released so far, and while they’re though to sit through, your voyeuristic self is sure to keep you going. At the same time, it makes you wonder: what if my search queries ever made it online? How would other people fill in my blanks?
Apart from the Dutch filmmakers I don’t think anyone’s really that interested in you to go about “filling the blanks”. Not you, Thom, but generally.
You gotta give it to the Dutch though for being pioneers in modern art that reinvents itself and pushes the borders. Kesselskramer comes to mind. If you haven’t visited their website I urge you to go and have a look.
I watched the trailer.
It is so sloooow.
Funny is the last word I would use to describe it.
some people have too much time…
Ok, this would have been much more interesting (and less mind-numbingly boring) if the pacing was better. Looking at a dull view of alaske while hearing random snippets spoken by woman isn’t exactly exciting. I’m sure you can fill in the blanks and get an interesting picture but to do that you’d have to watch 13 dull uneventful views of Alaska (ok, they’re pretty impressive vistas but they get old pretty quicky in this context) and listen to that flat, unemotional voice.
Edited 2009-01-28 15:35 UTC