30sec video series and essay
What started with a fascination of nature representations online,
brought me to Instagram, where enormous amounts of snapshots of
popular landmarks can be found. By machine learning these datasets of
Lower Antelope Canyon (7.009 images), Kuang Si Falls (5.869 images)
and Perito Moreno Glacier (5.954 images), Digital Lanscapes are
created. The videos immerse the viewer into this endless digital
landscape, that questions how our collective memories of natural sites
are formed online.
Machine learning by Boris Smeenk.
Welcome to the image. You must have traveled a long way, we are very
pleased to host you. In this tour, the image will show you all its
facets, all its pools, all its waters, all its trees. Currently, we are
29 kilometers south of Luang Prabang, where the image begins in these
shallow pools. We will follow the trail to the left, so you can really
see the image well. There will be a moment in the tour when you can take
photos. As you refresh the image, you can take a refreshing plunge. The
water is lovely. I kindly ask you not to litter, and make sure not to
leave any of your belongings behind. Together we can make sure that
everyone can enjoy the image.
Please follow me as we scroll through the
tour. As you might have noticed, the image has become very popular in
the last few years. If you haven’t visited the image before, you might
recognize it from its circulation. The crystal clear waters are plenty.
49.537 to be precise. This is the epicentre of the image, where all the
images from other waters come together in the central image. Parking
lots have been built, souvenir shops have been opened and tours now go
five times a day.
If you look to your right, you can see a hurdle of
tourists taking pictures of the image. Going home without a good image
of the image would be a shame. Walter had already warned us. The
authentic image will lose its flair and become a waterfall. If
everything is a reproduction, does it matter in which direction the
image flows? The only thing that is authentic are the discussions
questioning it on the internet. It all seems real to me. The sound of
water coming down, the reflection of the sun in the water, the
crispiness of fish biting your toes. Try it! It feels like gentle kisses
on your feet.
If you zoom in, you can see the image in its natural
habitat. All it knows is a collection of pixels, after all. If that’s
all you’ll ever see, don’t worry. The machine doesn’t know any better.
In the end, we’ll solely remember its after-image. All 49.537 images
performing together. A choreography of flows and scrolls, reduced to a
hallucination of what was once waters and pools. If you look closely,
you’ll see that the image is merely a square within a rectangular object
in your hand.
That brings us to the end of our tour. Thank you for
visiting the image. There are a lot of beautiful destinations just one
click away. If you have the change, take a look at Merino Glacier and
Lower Antelope Canyon. Have a safe journey home. And if wanderlust urges
you to explore, the image will be here, ready to welcome you again.
Digital Landscapes was exhibited at the Epicentre, Centre del Carme
Cultura Contemporània Valenica, as part of the Wrong Biennale 2019.
copyright Marijn Bril, 2019