This work exposes the inner workings of this human/non-human connection; the software - the keystrokes, the scripts and function calls occurring during the exchange - are revealed as a tangible artifact and interactive sonification. We invite guests to explore this non-human representation and touch the software, as it touches us back. As well as highlighting a hidden complexity, this work touches upon questions of transparency and privacy of search engines, and to what extent our relationship with software is rooted in control, in contrast to care.
"re|Traces of Search dives deeply into the processes that govern our most mundane actions, such as googling a pop star. What appears to be a routine action, akin to finding an entry in a book, is actually governed by a web of specifically engineered processes that each, in their own way, influences and affects the ways that we interact with information. By exploding the processes into a physical object, the installation allows us to perform the search like a musical instrument. We are invited to enter into a dialogue with the algorithm, who is usually our invisible mediator."
re|Traces of Search was accepted into the DIS 2020 conference themed More than Human Centred Design and will be displayed virtually at the conference in July 2020. For more information, see the DIS 2020 webpage and the project page.
This installation was made by the software art collective re|thread consisting of Erik Natanael Gustafsson, Nadia Campo Woytuk and Benoit Baudry and supported by KTH, CASTOR, WASP and ITEA. More information and resources on this and other re|thread projects can be found on the re|thread webpage.