Image Pillager / art / Image Pillager

Image Pillager

Search engines, portals, and online indexes create the surface appearance of order on the web. The ultimate, unreachable aim of these engines is be able to index everything, repeating the dreams of the early encyclopedists. In its ideal form a search engine such as Altavista, Lycos, Ditto, Yahoo, or of course Google, could retrieve any image of anything, as long as it is online. Within its search trees and databases, the entirety of this created space could be categorized and controlled.

Another form of image database is an archival service such as Corbis ( This database is comprised of stock footage, historical archives, and the rights to an increasing percentage of the world's "fine art." These images are copyrighted and sold to designers and advertisers as a source point for the creation of the contemporary visual landscape. The aim of the Corbis service is to be able to provide a visual encyclopedia of the physical world, human history and culture, as opposed to the virtual space of the web.

Both types of databases, however, present views of imaginary spaces. Altavista and Lycos index the web, a virtual space filled with banner graphics, snapshots of friends and pets, decontextualized graphs and charts, advertisements for unidentifiable products, landscapes from unknown tourist destinations, unattractive logos and icons, and a high percentage of porn. Corbis, on the other hand, presents the real world in pictures - but it is a strange view of the real world. Highly saturated in color, artfully composed, this is the equally imaginary fantasyland of the mediated world.

By circumventing the structures imposed onto this glut of information by the search engine, the Image Pillager presents the raw data itself in completely random form - admitting noise for what it is, hoping that signal may emerge. It may also be used as a tool for restructuring this information by making collages, generating an ever-changing surface of densities and visual signs.

****** Pillagers *****

v1 : Small Grid

The original pillager. Image streams come in through the three small grids on the left; roll over them to pull out images to view in the larger collage.


v1.1 : Big Grid

For more data at once, try Big Grid - 6x6 matrices for each search engine.

v1.5 : Weaving

A fully automatic, very large grid pillager. Sit back and soak in the excess of visual information as the search engine streams shift and weave.

v2.2 : 5x Interactive Collage

Standalone Executable, Interactive
OSX, Win32, 800x600, 1.5MB
The second generation pillager gives the viewer greater flexibility to arrange, stretch, and manipulate images from the streams in translucent layers. This one pillages 5 search engine databases simultaneously - Lycos, AltaVista, Corbis, Google, and Yahoo. Download to your desktop, then run it and drag images from the small grids to create layered collages.

v4.0 : d3cAy

Standalone Executable, Automatic
OSX, Win32, 1024x768, 1.4MB
Another automatic pillager, this one builds a dense mass of all the images it pillages. The process that brings images in fights against two processes of decay - one that slowly blurs the boundaries between images, creating soft fields of color; and another that devours the images completely, spreading gaps and holes.