The Best Image on the Internet With Zhang Qingyun

February 22, 2013 | Marina Galperina

New York-based graphic designer Zhang Qingyun has created a curious and brilliant case study of YOU ON THE INTERNET.

For his piece at the “Processed” exhibition at Center 548 in Chelsea, he set up two displays: (1) 50 captions culled from personal Facebook messages, gchats and tweets and (2) correlating Google Image results. Then he let the audience play the matching game, compiling the study in his book Found Image / Found Caption.

“I tried to collect phrases that are definitive, like ‘This is xxx.’” Qingyun also says that “most,” “worst,” and “best” have been goldmines of visual expressivity. Speaking of XXX, wouldn’t tapping into the visual zeitgeist could lead to some… delicate content? “There were definitely disturbing images, but somehow none of them made it to the top result, so I couldn’t use them.”

“The juxtaposition between our system of image association and the Google Images search process was my main interest,” Qingyun explains. “I want people to recognize the difference, so next time when they say ‘just Google it’ or ‘just Wiki it’ they know that those results might not be what they are really looking for… And thank God that people still have a better sense of humor than the computers.”