“Search Behind the Scenes” presented by Valdes

  • ©ISEA2015: 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Catalina Cortazar Valdes, Search Behind the Scenes
  • ©ISEA2015: 21st International Symposium on Electronic Art, Catalina Cortazar Valdes, Search Behind the Scenes
  • Image 1 & 2 from Vimeo


Presentation Title:

  • Search Behind the Scenes



  • Today, we have access to information delivered over the Internet from the most remote parts of the world. As the use of the Internet increases, so does the use of search engines as the tool to access on-line information. We are becoming informed, constructing meaning, and understanding the world based on the results retrieved by search engines. SEARCH Behind the Scenes is an interactive-installation, which invites the participant to think from a critical perspective about how this technology influences our lives and its implication in our understanding of today’s world. It invites the visitor to conduct an on-line search; instead of retrieving the search engines’ results showing them on the computer screen, this time the search is simultaneously conducted by two search engines, and two computer monitors start a text-based conversation about their results.
    The conversation is a constructed narrative generated by the real results retrieved by different search engines such as Google, Bing (using the results snippets) and on my own research on how search engines work. The dialogue between the different search engines has a human touch, allowing the visitor to engage with the conversation, and feel that the two monitors “are like friends having a conversation” By comparing their results and discussing why they are, or not, different, the conversation reveals different aspects of how search engines are curating our results, questioning their objectivity, and exposing a phenomenon that is not always visible to us. SEARCH Behind the Scenes focuses on the relation between the search engines and the users. How the search engines don’t expose their results selection criteria and rest on the ignorance of the web user about computer algorithms, and how we, as Internet users, have attributed objectivity to the search engines’ results without understanding how they are being selected, how they really work. Some of the reactions of the visitors were: “we are not getting the same things back…” and “that information we received over the Internet is biased…” These reactions allow us to envision the possible next steps of this project, which involve a more in depth analyzes of the patterns found in the results retrieved by search engines, that would allow visitors to develop counteroffensive strategies in their mode of searching.

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Additional Images:

  • 2015 Valdes Search Behind the Scenes
  • 2015 Valdes Search Behind the Scenes