FlickrText is a text art generation program that processes texts fed to it into diagrammed sentences with images in place of the nouns and the verbs. The images are pulled from Flickr using Flickr’s relevance search method. By replacing some of the text with images, the viewer is left with a residual structure of the original text due to the articles, adverbs, and adjectives that pepper sentences. However, there is a level of abstraction to the reading of the text as many portions of it are chains of images.
In making this project I was thinking of the relationships between words and pictures. Having been trained as a photographer I have always gravitated away from text to images to convey ideas and thoughts. However, in constructing this program and seeing the final results I see that more often than not the text is required to elucidate the authors original meaning from the text. One could say that this is entirely true to of any project of this nature. However, in portions of the image the meanings remain clear. I think that part of the reason for deviation in the image is the nature of my image-getting process. The images are chosen from flickr’s user-generated and user-tagged archive. Since users tag their images and users are human an image of a cat can also have tags for cute, evil, fuzzy, furry, happy, lucky, killer, tabby, mouse, happiness.
Thus when I search for a word that image of a cat can appear as a result. I enjoy these unexpected surprises when looking at the printed work and hope my viewer does too. They were also part of the reason I chose to present the bulk of the work as a printed piece. The persistence offered by a printed piece is something unavailable from a digital medium.
The part of the work that is digital deals with much shorter texts. I have made a version of FlickrText that reads a Twitter feed and visualizes the last tweet. I think that this is an interesting way of displaying the short form messages transfered over Twitter.
For more and higher resolution images from FlickrText please visit the FlickrText blog.