UBC | Digital Visions
Digital Visions
Meggan Gould
Writer: Serena McGibbon
Google Project

With the advent of the digital camera, the art of photography has witnessed its most massive paradigm shift since the advent of the instant Polaroid camera imaging. With the emergence of "digital photography," the act of capturing images has altered the way we as a society negotiate visual data. The digital camera has brought about a shift in the way images are treated, considered and even consumed. This instantaneous feedback possible from a digital image allows the photographer to keep or disregard an image instantly. In many cases a digital photograph will never escape the digital realm, it's data moves from camera, to computer, to email and through to an unimaginable set of destinations as data. The physical tangibility of the snapshot held in hand is becoming a thing of the past. Tangibility now comes from the act of deciding what to keep, what to delete, what to manipulate and what to print, shifting the art of photography into the realm of the post-modern. With these new possibilities, the exchange of images over the net has become both a convenience and a social trope.

Meggan Gould's Google project explores mass reproducibility and availability of images on the net while also investigating image habit from our own practice of consuming, looking at and/or glossing over, the millions of images available in digital realm. Gould, a self-described photographer, has branched out into the realm of net-art to realise her latest project.

"This is my first piece that really enters (the realm of net art) per se, and I am enjoying it vastly…but first and foremost I do consider myself a photographer - simply one that is blurring the lines between on-screen and off-screen landscapes."

Gould's project begins with a "Google image search". A program, conceived by the artist, takes the first 100 or so images hit on by the search engine "Google", and then flattens the results into a composite of the 100 sources. The resultant image contains elements of all 100 images found through the Google search. In many cases the images become abstract splashes of colour that have the air of a painting with no obvious visual references or cues. Gould presents these googled images on her website as either individual tableaux or within a slideshow, the word, which has been googled, accompanies the composite image thus allowing the viewer to negotiate the elements that make up the image. The process, thus, becomes a unique amalgamation of text and image, signifier and sign, played out within the familiar space of the Google search engine.

Gould explains that she displays her images differently when in a gallery setting as opposed to her website,

"When I have set up the images in a gallery setting, I have marked each image with a number and kept the title/text key apart from the images, precisely because I want the viewer to have to search within the imagery, to guess, to work towards comprehending the images." When viewed online the images are displayed with their corresponding searched words, like a title, similar to the way a viewer would approach a work in a gallery or textbook along with it's title in plain view. This discrepancy in exhibition practice exemplifies the difference in practice between photography, an intrinsically modern art form, and net art, a much more post-modern practice.

"I have approached presentation photographically. These pieces will be shown as static, framed photographs in upcoming shows." The intervention of the artist's hand, the physicality of the pieces and the aspect of the ready-made really place Gould's treatment of her gallery exhibitions in the realm of the modern.

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Site: Google Project