Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Jackson Pollock and the Internet

In honor of the week's news involving Jackson Pollock, I have decided to use the inspired artist as my own muse in an exercise of searching for art and interpretation resources on the web. I limited myself to highlights of the first 10 results (sorted by Google Ranking).

What does this tell us about the artist? Not much. Results 1 - 10 were comprised of 7 bios on various aggregate sites, 1 personal "fan site", 1 Flash animation and 1 museum web feature. Only 2 of the 10 pages were hosted by museums. 1,171,000 pages returned, and I don't think the results differ that much as you travel down the search results long tail. Sure, you could extend the search analysis to 11 - 20. It gets a little better; 4 museum pages, 3 biographies, 2 Amazon book reviews and 1 selling unauthorized posters and prints.

What does this tell us about the web? A good deal more than it tells us about Pollock.

It is amazing, the fact that Pollock is one of the most exciting, creative and avante-garde artists in the last century makes no difference to a search engine. The algorithms fail the users in this regard. But it isn't just Google. They are just the messengers.

Where are museums in the education and positioning of artist's works online? Why aren't institutions working together to form vertical search cooperatives that give users an authoritative and engaging destination for art content? And, given all the new ways of presenting and relating content and media out there, it is unforgivable that one of the most influential artists of the modern era would receive such a low-fi and downright boring treatment on the web and one that does virtually nothing to increase appreciation or understanding the artist's time or work.


Admin said...

So, obviously the method is a little flawed. But, given the rising generational gap when it comes to reliance on search engines for research, I thought it was a good exercise (if only conceptual).

For anyone that is curious, Google Image Search was actually worse than the page search results. 1 - 20 included 2 cartoons mocking Pollock, someone's screen capture of the Pollock flash tool, 2 posters and many random images (don't get me started on the state of color correction for these works).

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