For the launch of the newly re-envisioned site, Lauren Cornell has selected Taryn Simon and Aaron Swartz’s Image Atlas (2012), a project developed out of Rhizome’s signature Seven on Seven conference this past spring.
Image Atlas investigates cultural differences and similarities by indexing top image results for given search terms across local search engines throughout the world. Visitors can refine or expand their comparisons from the sixty countries currently available and sort by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or alphabetical order. Through an incredibly simple interface, the Image Atlas raises profound questions related to language, international culture, and systems of information. Questions such as: What does popularity (i.e., the top result) reveal? How neutral is the statistical data? How is visual language transforming due to digital technology? How does translation affect meaning?
When searching online, images are not as easy to find as text. The Image Atlas proposes a singular method of retrieving and comparing pictures, to demonstrate the variability of language and the persistence of difference in a world supposedly flattened by the forces of the global economy.
The New Art Online series is curated by Lauren Cornell, Adjunct Curator and former Director of Rhizome.