Artists Make Dictionary Using Images Instead Of Words

Two artists make a dictionary using the first image from a Google search for each word

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For many people the internet has replaced most traditional forms of reference material. When was the last time you saw an encyclopedia? Most writers and editors opt for online versions of dictionaries, so in a way it seems like it was only a matter of time until someone got the idea to combine old media with an aspect of our newer, digital life.

Two London-based artists decided to see what a visual representation of the English language in 2012 would look like. They replaced the 21,000 words found in a dictionary with the first image that shows up for each work Goggle’s image search (no mention of what version of dictionary they used).

The resulting book titled simply “Google” is 1240 pages of images in alphabetical order (without a single word). “It’s an unfiltered, uncritical reaction of the state of human culture in 2012, said West (or of the state of human culture on the day they ran the scripts for the image search). Of the content he says, “I would estimate about half of the book is revolting medical photos, port, racism or bad cartoons.”

It doesn’t appear that the two sought permission to use, print, or sell any of the images—which means that they could be setting themselves up for serious IP troubles, as they are now looking into having a small run of editions printed for sale.