Published in 2004, Eugenio Tiselli’s Synonymovie takes any word you choose, finds images, and makes a “movie” of it. In order to begin you will also need Adobe Shockwave which can be found here. The algorithm in Synonymovie takes your word and finds an image related to the word using an online search engine, then a synonym of the word which is found using a web based synonym server, and presents you with the new word and image. Then the program repeats the process using the new word and continues to find synonyms and images until a word without synonyms is found.
The image sequences vary in length depending on the word you choose. Mt first choice was “green” and based on meaning of green I got a picture of a leaf, the word fleeceable and that was the end. I wasn’t happy with that so I tried green again and got a new list and set of images; green, jet, coal black, jet, achromatic, sable, habiliment, clothing – the end. I spend most of that list wondering how it went from green to jet, which was a huge turning point for the rest of the list. My conclusion was, green is a terrible word for this program, because it’s hard enough for a person to answer what “green” is, let alone a computer. A better word, was “literature” which I managed to get some pictures for below. Literature, writing, composition, oeuvre, work, play, go, disappear, melt, meld, rum, and cards.
The more I played with the program the more I enjoyed it and found the lists that were compiled from the internet (from wherever they may be- they’re not the first images/synonyms from a Google search) make interesting lists of associated words like; rose, wine, fuddle, confuse, piece, mend, mending, fixture, fixity, unchangeability, quality, level, destroy, and unmake. Just like green, if I re-enter rose I will get an entirely different list because of the random number generator, and I would be interested in seeing the numerous combinations of words and images and to have something to show for what these search engines perceive is synonymous with rose.
Based on the examples there were hits and misses which is true of a lot of information you find randomly on the internet. The more I look at the results, the more I think of this work as a criticism of the internet, and that this program emphasized – that based on the information in the search engines, the algorithm made widely different choices than what a person would. And it’s up to humans to interpret the information provided by the internet because sometimes search engines are unreliable…what do you think?