Turbulence Commission: “Google Variations” by Leonardo Solaas


Google is the main hub of an emerging data-driven world. It is a beast with many faces, impossible to grasp all at once and growing new limbs every day. It is also the name of many contradictions: a centralized traffic control in the (supposedly) horizontal and distributed Internet; a supporter of data openness and accessibility that relies on secret algorithms; and a ranking technology that is based on finding out popularity while it simultaneously determines it. “Google Variations” is a series of approximations of some of these diverse aspects of Google. It is a collection of formal and conceptual micro-experiments, a fly-eyed view of an entity so pervasive that it tends to be invisible while it radically changes our lives. “Google Variations” employs multiple strategies to de-naturalize our relationship with the brand, the corporation and the technology.

“Google Variations” is a 2010 commission of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. for its Turbulence website. It was made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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LEONARDO SOLAAS studied Philosophy at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and is a self-taught programmer, designer and new media artist. Among other distinctions, he was awarded the IBM Media Art Award 2006 at the 19th Stuttgarter Filmwinter for Dreamlines and the Premio Mamba – Fundación Telefónica 2005, in Buenos Aires, Argentina for Intimidad. He was also commissioned by the Readme 100 Software Art Festival in 2005 to develop the project Outsource Me!, under the guidance of Alexei Shulgin and Olga Goriunova. He has taken part in numerous exhibitions, including International Media Art Award (Karlsruhe, Alemania, 2005), 5ta Bienal del Mercosur (Porto Alegre, Brasil, 2005), Transmediale 06 (Berlín, Alemania, 2006), OFFF International Festival (Barcelona, España, 2006), Impakt Festival (Utrecht, Holanda, 2006), Interface & Society (Oslo, Noruga, 2006), Designmai 07 (Berlin, Germany, 2007), and FILE 2008 (Porto Alegre, Brasil, and Rio do Janeiro, Brasil). Solaas lives in Argentina.