Sunday, August 26, 2007

Random Images, and Music

Here's a neat art project: a randomized music video that draws imagery from the whole of flickr.

The fellow who created ASTRONAUT -- Felix Jung -- has taken a music track by a friend and used keywords based on the lyrics to fetch semi-random images from flickr, based on tags given to those images. He has built a web-movie, using Flash, that incorporates those images into a simple music video of the song.

Flickr users can add tags to their images as a way to organize them or categorize them. For example, I have quite a few photos tagged with "Vermont." There are even more tagged "Vermont" by other users. Using tags, I can quickly see all of my Vermont photos or look at photos of Vermont from other users.

Felix Jung has taken this a step further, as he explains in his post about this project:
Each time the Flash file is loaded, new images are randomly pulled from Flickr. I've hard-coded 53 keywords at set points in the song, and when the page is first loaded... calls are made out to Flickr to retrieve these keywords. With each call, I vary the parameters a little bit.
The song includes either the word or the concept "distant" towards its end. Jung has taken that as a keyword and called flickr photos tagged with "distant." There are 4,664 photos so-tagged as I write this morning. The parameters Jung refers to are changing ways to randomly sort and select from the found images. That way, different images are chosen each time the movie is played. This morning, my playing of it turned up this image.

It's a simple thing, but makes nice use of the many images that flickr users are adding to the public face of flickr each day.

We sometimes forget about the potential for the web to be a global, interactive, collaborative marketplace of ideas. We add content -- through blogging or posting photos, sound or video -- partly to satisfy our egos and be "published." But we also should remember that we are adding small bits to something larger that grows in ways we cannot forsee.

This is what is at the heart of the philosophy of the Creative Commons.

At least part of our pleasure in this Internet thing should be to see to what unexpected use other folks put our creations.

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