What Magic

What Magic consists of an installation of photo-etchings, digital prints, and an artist’s book.  The work is based on a photograph that I discovered during an Internet search for “house fire.” This project stems from observations of the image’s unexpected proliferation online and corresponding shifts in its narrative.

Between April 4 and December 19, 2016, I conducted a reverse Google image search of this photograph to identify other possible copies available online. The image was found on twenty-nine different websites, each with very different accounts of its context.

In response to these findings, I created twenty photo-etchings of the single image to create an inventory of those websites.  Each print is accompanied by text taken from one of the webpages. All etchings are reproductions of a drawing of the original photograph.

The artist’s book is the final stage of the project. It presents the research of the photo-etching installation in a more intimate form, and goes further to index the Internet’s digital breakdown of the image.  The resolution of each digital reproduction corresponds with the resolution of each found Internet image, becoming increasingly pixelated as the book progresses.

During the creation of this project, some of the images disappeared from their website sources, while some URLs no longer functioned. The blank pages within the book and installation stand in for those absences. Many more websites have been removed or added since the project’s inception.