Networked portraits such as this one fade as their ingredients move from server to server over time. While dispersed image files are duplicated, manipulated, renamed and trashed, the caleidoscopic picture slowly but surely changes. On this page you will find a very simple sketch testing out how that erosion could be made visible.
Last April I typed Ayaan Hirshi Ali in the search box of http://images.google.be/images. I manually chose fifty portraits (skipping repetitions or irrelevant results) from the results and downloaded them to my desktop. I also copied the URL of each image, plus the URL of the page or context it was found in. Than I stored the downloaded images on the De Geuzen server, and collected all the info in a HTML document. The left column shows the images stored on our server; the right column shows the images linked from the original location it was found in.
Some sites did not allow the linkage of images (I guess to prevent bandwidth theft); some images were hosted on very different servers than the place they were found would suggest - for example image no. 01 is hosted at the BBC newssite, but Google found it at http://snoedel.punt.nl/index.php?gr=106023
Of course the experiment could be done with any image search. But I was especially interested in working with the portrait of controversial and popular Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali - it is made up of many stereotypical images that can not easily be mapped to the sites of her fans or those of her critics.