‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ is rule 32 from the Rules of the Internet, originally written by the Internet group Anonymous. It is a colloquial expression used by Internet users to challenge their virtual interlocutor on a discussion forum or a social network, when their arguments require photographic proof of what they are saying.
This project started from the recontextualization of ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ – both as a search term and a request made to one of the biggest image search engines, Google Images. Like every Google product, Google Images is a very sophisticated piece of software, capable of investigating every dark corner of the net to provide users with a precise visual idea of what they are looking for, day in, day out. Even in this particular (and somewhat self-referential) case, Google has tried to satisfy our request for knowledge with an extensive list which is always in progress. (You can see this yourself here: http://goo.gl/onBNiN).
So, Google takes on the challenge even without knowing it, offering life paths and experiences thrown into the net by means of the images it collects and assembles. In this way, it unwittingly becomes an active partner in a very personal speculation about the role and nature of images in the era of Big Data.
The circular image
The project consists of organizing a kind of journey for those images (captured with the search query ‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ in Google Images), to the space ‘beyond here’ and beyond the screen. The images travel from the Internet to the real world and back, using some of the things the digital world puts at our disposal: from a home-based printer through to print-on-demand services and photo-video devices.
The white tags trace the artist’s visual journey across the grid of images returned by Google Images. Erasing parts of the images using Photoshop’s paint brush, they also testify to the fact something is always happening to the image, on more level than one.
‘Pics or it didn’t happen’ is developed and supported by HOC/ gallery. The resulting material is being hosted online on the platform http://pics.oritdidnthappen.com (powered by HOC/) and includes a non-stop streaming of visual libraries with all sorts of pictures obtained that will be collected, modified, printed and then re-documented once again.
With a background in hacktivism, net art and video art, Guido Segni, aka Clemente Pestelli (b. 1979, Italy), lives and works at the intersections between art, pop internet culture and data hallucination. Mainly focused on the daily (ab)use of the Internet, his work is characterized by minimal gestures towards technology which combine a conceptual approach with a traditional hacker attitude to make things odd, useless and dysfunctional. Co-founder of Les Liens Invisibles , he has exhibited in galleries, museums (MAXXI Rome, New School of New York, KUMU Art Museum of Talinn) and international art and media art festivals (International Venice Biennale, Piemonte SHARE Festival, Transmediale). Currently he teaches at the Accademia di Belle Arti of Carrara, directs the imaginary REFRAMED lab and is part of the editorial committee for the project Atypo.