The Googleheim Art Museum returns!

Rob Walker
Welcome to the Googleheim
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The recent roundup here of art and technology projects inspired by, or making cunning use of, various Google products, might have looked overwhelming. But turns out at least some readers felt it wasn’t enough — a point they made by directing me to even more examples. With the necessary caveat that I am not attempting to be comprehensive, I will concede the Googleheim Museum imagined in that earlier post already needs a Googleheim Annex. Some of the highlights that were brought to my attention:

Marco Cadioli’s “Abstract Journeys” series of videos and prints offers screen captures from Google Earth that reveal surprisingly elegant and beguiling abstractions resulting from the way the (actual) Earth has been transformed by humanity.

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Cadiolo has also played with Google Earth in at least two other videos. Google Error is described as exploiting “a program error in rendering surfaces” to convert the product into an Op-Art generator. And Google Melon turns our planet into a giant revolving watermelon, which is pretty amusing.

Addressing Google Earth from the opposite direction is a project I actually knew about but had slipped my mind: Molly Dilworth’s “Paintings for Satellites” and related projects. Large-scale abstractions executed on rooftops or open public spaces, the works are meant to be big and colorful enough to be seen via Google Earth.

Another project I failed to recall: Greg Allan’s fascinating discovery (and examination) of a de facto self-portrait collaboration between a Google Street View camera vehicle, and a guy who managed to get himself into its image captures at least 63 times.

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A couple of the projects I had previously missed involved Google Image search. A short 2011 video by Niko Princen examines the Google Image search results for “High Five,” moving a cursor over the grid of images and hovering to let individual hands pop out to slightly larger sizes. (Image search results don’t work that way any more — you have to click on pictures to see them larger — and watching the video made me miss this approach.)

And a 2010 video by Jeff Thompson gathers the result of a search for “sphere,” and 400 “similar images,” and presenting them rapid-fire.

Other projects used Google Maps as a venue for textual experiments. For Insignificant Topographies, a group of artists and writers added “micro-topological” maps to specific spots on Google Maps of several European cities. Zoom into Rome, and the user ends up seeing the familiar Maps pins scattered across an apparently random and boring patch of urban terrain — annotating litter and dust with strange little stories.

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Somewhat similarly, Radiant Copenhagen uses a combination of Google Maps and PB Wiki to add a number of dubious landmarks to the Danish capital — you can click around to read about the Bureau of Missing People (established in 2055), or the city’s Giant Carrot Monuments.

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And finally, there’s Constant Dullaart — and yes, that’s really his name. (He’s Dutch.) This was an oversight on my part, as I’ve enjoyed much of his Net-centric work. I was thinking about work that played with Google’s more visually oriented products, but Dullaart has done some memorable things with the actual search engine home page. sends it into an endless spin; breathily fades to black, over and over; and perhaps my favorite, Terms Of Service, converts the search box into a mouth that cheerily reads aloud the entirety of Google’s terms of service.

Of course these sorts of creations don’t just use or reference Google, they are about Google, critiquing its role in contemporary information society — and maybe that is a whole other category. An effort called Google Will Eat Itself is an amusing example: It’s described as an effort to make money “by serving Google text advertisments on a network of hidden Websites” — and using those funds to buy Google shares.

But you know what? That sounds like the beginning of a whole separate annex — and I did not sign on to be a full-time curator of the Google-y arts! That said, sincere thanks to all who pointed me to good stuff I’d missed, and I’ll happily accept and dutifully retweet any other cool examples you want to tell me about @notrobwalker.