Lifestream, Liked on YouTube: algorithmic search for love by Julian Palacz

via YouTube

Through this post I make a novel start to the algorithmic cultures block, with Julian Palacz’s interactive installation from 2010.

Algorithmic search for love is a found footage film generator. It works like a search engine, where spoken language is searched using text input. Every word or sentence in a movie can be a possible search result.”

The installation broadcasts all video sequences found for each text match ‘end-to-end, producing a new audiovisual story. It’s fascinating to see the very varied contexts in which single phrases can be seen to find meaning.

Here’s Juian Palacz talking about how the algorithm works with film scripts, and utilises translation tools. Palacz comments that it is interesting to see what people enter, through a private process, and then see the search terms quite publicly realised through the broadcast. For me, this gives rise to questions about agency, and connects with Knox’s article,  Active Algorithms: Sociomaterial Spaces in the E-learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (2104). In the same way that Knox suggests the EDCMOOC space was co-created by participants and the underlying algorithms of the sites that hosted resources, the broadcast produced in Palacz’s installation is co-produced by the algorithm, the human choice of search terms and by what is included in and excluded from the film database. No doubt the performative nature of the search return also influences the choice of search queries. I would be interested to see the results of an algorithm which similarly worked with spoken language and film, but also incorporated personal data such as genre preferences/viewing history/etc. of the user.

One Reply to “Lifestream, Liked on YouTube: algorithmic search for love by Julian Palacz”

  1. Fantastic project! It would be great if you could put together film clips from a completely different script – the script from one film used to put together a sequence of clips from others. Or perhaps a poem.

    Good points here about authorship – this is perhaps an area for education to think about more. Is education fundamentally about the individual, the individual proving their knowledge, or could we endorse the idea of partial contribution to something. If interested, there is a paper here ( which talks a little more about authorship of digital artefacts, given the role of algorithms.

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