Periphery Vision

“Periphery Vision,” builds on data structures as representative of an understanding of the figural. Initially inspired by Lev Manovich’s cultural analytic projects – “On Broadway” (www.on-broadway.nyc), “Selfiecity” (www.selfiecity.net), “Phototrails” (www.phototrails.net) – which visualise data in a specific way, my project examines random and associative data in real-time. Manovich’s projects use fixed data sets collected over a specific and limited period of time. The focus of “Periphery Vision” is to use software to combine and randomise live data from the Internet in real-time, simulating how we perceive and experience images daily. Structured in this way, each refresh of the page is able to produce a different combination and a new set of associations. The project pays particular attention to the random and ‘real-time’ spatiotemporal aspects of structure and the open-ended relationship of image and text. Its primary aim is to present image not as a unified object but as a contingent encounter. Such an encounter is underpinned by the structure and logic of code and algorithms interspersed with repetition and randomness. I argue, following Burgin, that these are the conditions that shape our experiences with the world of images.

“Periphery Vision” is divided into six columns containing images or text. The functionality, written using Javascript, takes data structures of text and images from live sources on the Internet. The work is laid out as follows. The first column extracts Instagram images tagged with a specific hashtag. The second column simultaneously displays the colour palettes of the each of the Instagram images. The third column displays the comments and tags that have been associated with the Instagram images. The fourth column uses a random word from the third column and searches image site Flickr for comments and tags. It then displays the associated images. The fifth column displays the titles of the Flickr images shown. The sixth and final column takes a random word from the fifth column and displays a Google search result. Clearly these associations could continue, infinitely and with different combinations or procedures connected with each. What the project represents is a way of initially engaging with Burgin’s combining fragments. The limitations of html web page layout, the external sources available and the methods Javascript uses to gather sources, dictate that “Periphery Vision” has in its present form a rudimentary formality. This in itself indicates Manovich’s software medium, wherein the technique defines how it actually appears. Nevertheless, experimentally this work attempts to frame a question as to what are the terms of reference for images. It also crudely articulates the experiences of contemporary forms of representation that are fundamentally concerned with data overlaid with media objects.