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Google – The first Google image for every word in the dictionary


If a picture says more than a thousand words – and current internet dynamics tend to agree – what would a visual guide to the English vocabulary, contemporary and ‘webresentative’, look like? Ben West and Felix Heyes, two artists and designers from London (UK), found out when they replaced the 21,000 words found in your everyday dictionary with whatever shows up first for each word in Google’s image search. Behold Google – a 1240 page behemoth of JPGs, GIFs and PNGs in alphabetical order.

“We used two PHP scripts my brother Sam wrote for us,” says Ben about the process in an email. “The first one takes a text list of dictionary words and downloads each image in sequence, and the second lays them out into columns and outputs a PDF.” The PDF was then printed into a beautiful book – handbound, thumb indexed pages held together in a marbled paper hardcover, the golden Google logo clearly indifferent to whatever internet horrors it may contain.

“Conceptually it’s whatever you make of it,” writes Ben. The sad reality of shrinking attention spans, collective media fatigue or how an expert reference book is no match for the convenience of Google, for example. “It’s really an unfiltered, uncritical record of the state of human culture in 2012,” concludes Ben. So, how are we faring? “I would estimate about half of the book is revolting medical photos, porn, racism or bad cartoons.”

Ben and Felix are currently looking into having a small run of softcover editions of Google printed to sell. To sign up for a copy and to see more work by the two go to Ben West and Felix Heyes.

via Crap = Good

  • Maciej Baron

    Copyrights will be a b*tch here…

  • Max White


  • Seriously! And don’t these images change all the time?

  • It would be better if the word were printed under each image as a caption.  While I can understand not having the word – and letting the viewer form their own impression – it would be interesting in a different way to also have the word to contemplate.

  • Don’t know what to say. Oh yeah! I wrote this thing about Franz Kafka and American Apparel: http://theopenend.com/2012/05/29/franz-kafka-writes-diary-with-american-apparel-girl/ 

  • Sally Canzoneri

    It looks like a really cool book, and clearly took them work. Nonetheless, the copyright issue is very troubling. First you have Google using the images, maybe (or maybe not) with a fair use defence. Then you have these guys creating an entire book, and the book is really nothing more than a collection of copies of other artists’ works; and they plan to sell it. Surely that is not fair to the people who created the images. But who can afford to sue over a book when your image is only one of many? And, again, these guys might claim a fair use defence (e.g., for the illustrations from medical books.)

    This is another one of those situations where one can see artistic “borrowing” as valuable for the society, but at the same time one is concerned for the artists who created the images. Really, the issue isn’t about copyrights being “a b*tch” here as much as about the issue of how we can make copyright work as it should with modern technology and the excessively long time for which people (and Micky Mouse) get to hold the copyrights.  

  • CaptainEarlobe

     You know what a book is right?

  • No-one

    law suit in 3… 2… 1…

  • My thoughts exactly.

  • Troy Raney

    “I would estimate about half of the book is revolting medical photos, porn, racism or bad cartoons.”
    Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

  • Caterina Ljung

    is it on sale ?

  • 21,000 copyright permission letters required, and fees to be paid to use most of the images. Hope they have deep pockets.

  • Where I find to buy it?

  • Thijs Roumen

    the gaps on the sides of the pages are cool though :)

  • Thomas Wright

    For being about a company with very clean design elements, the cover sure is obnoxious. Not even to mention the hideous font used to label each section.

  • screw copyrights, things need to be made without the use of the FAILED monetary system, copyright this, and abolish money now

  • MMH


  • That is why it will stand as a record for a certain time.

  • Did this book ever come out? I can’t find it…

  • I don’t think the book ever came out…