Tapping random words into Google Images is a sure-fire, short-cut way to creating an amazing meta image. I’ve seen it used to great effect on Pinterest; the other day someone pinned a Google Images screenshot of nudibranches:
(As with all images in this entry, click on them to get a magnified view.)
First I thought, wow! I hope I never go snorkeling and step on one by accident. Then I thought: Must Google nudibranch. Turns out they’re colloquially but sometimes erroneously called sea slugs, i.e., mollusks without shells. There are several thousand varieties and they live in all the seas of the world, warm and cold, and live up to the Hypnotic Peacock tag line, “a cornucopia of rainbow-colored fun.” If they listened to music (do they have ears?) you know it would be a sexy rumba or a sassy salsa.
Needless to say, this image got me wondering what other kinds of Google-inspired, serendipitously juxtaposed images I could come up with.
I started with the obvious. Here’s “Peacock photograph”
What I love are the white peacocks that come up in this. They are just as beautiful as their full-color brethren. (White peacocks, according to Wikipedia, are albinos. Which you’d think would make them too rare to show up 4.5 times in one screen shot.)
Next, I moved on to something artsy. Thinking of Man Ray’s famous works of objects placed on film, here’s what happens when you type in “Rayograph”:
Spectacular! So then I went with the next logical key word phrase: “Man Ray Lips”:
I love it! Just the right amount of repetition, color, and variety. I think I’ll print it out and turn it into a Valentine’s Day card.
But maybe artists are too easy. I thought of something slightly more esoteric. I keyed in “Detroit ruin porn,” and alas my browser told me that I probably didn’t want to do that. So I modified the search to “Detroit ruins” and got what I was after:
Such images are de rigeur for the coffee table book trade these days, but everyone I know just yawns at them. We’re not amused by the post-apocalyptic visions of our decaying city. It’s not news, and we’re not zombies inhabiting the charred detritus. More than likely, we’re enjoying a triple threat sandwich from Slow’s BBQ while that empty train station glowers just yonder off Michigan Avenue.
Yet, the confluence of all these images on one page does lend weight to the issue. But please don’t think we need to be saved. Just consider us the canary in the coal mine–this is what Philadelphia, or St. Louis, or Denver will look like in 50, 100, or 150 years.
Okay, look at the image below and guess what I typed in next:
Who’d a thunk it? Then I realized, I’ve actually read that book by Seth Godin. Perhaps–wunderkind marketing genius that he is–he has worked his magic on my subconscious in a most imperceptible way. Plus, now that I’ve seen a purple cow, being one doesn’t seem like it’d be that bad.
Getting back to the themes of my blog, I took a whirlwind Google Images tour based on some of my previous entries. Here’s a handful of krampuses:
And because it’s Lent, not Christmas, here’s more than a basketful of Ukrainian Easter Eggs:
Thirsting for intricate designs (it doesn’t take much for me), my next search was for “M.C. Escher tessellations”:
Which got me thinking about middle-brow art. And when it comes to middle-brow art, one name rules above all others: Dale Chihuly!
I was deeply heartened the other day when the protagonist of Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple went on the same anti-Chihuly rant that I’ve trotted out myself over the years. You can’t go enter an art institution in this country without being assaulted by his wavy glass flowers and tendrils. You’re a one-trick pony, Dale, as if Warhol had stopped with his Campbell’s soup cans.
I need to clear my palate. Let’s breath deep and enjoy some vintage Eames chairs:
Certainly, these can also be described as middle-brow, in the way that all mass-produced art is by definition middle-brow. The difference is that an Eames chair has never pretended to be anything other than a well-designed piece of furniture (while a Chihuly always aspires to be fine art, even if it is decorating a Vegas casino.)
Finally, let’s make this round up recursive, like a tail-swallowing ouroboros. My final Google image was for Hypnotic Peacock.
The best thing about Google Images is that the whole it presents, while possibly equal to the sum of its parts, is an instantly arrayed infinite visual buffet. Our appetites are insatiable, our plates are always full, the well is never dry, and our every thought springs instantly into retina display resolution. Whatever we can think, we can see; and far from quelling one’s imagination, our mind skips and stumbles as fast as we can scroll, slurping up each morsel and craving more. The productivity of the human mind and the billions of images culled from our collective endeavors inspires neverending awe.
Okay, you’ve been good. Just for reading that last paragraph, here’s a bonus. Key term: Crop circle