Database Cinema: An Instant Movie Mashup Generator

By Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg

Julian Palacz's Algorithmic Search for Love, an interactive digital media installation, works like a search engine; viewers can search a collection of films for a certain spoken phrase and the program plays back a montage of all those moments in sequence. The program works by parsing the English subtitle tracks of 500 films on a local hard drive, creating an edit similar to the "supercut" sequences that have been so popular on YouTube lately -- like this one. This video demonstrates how the program works with the phrases "where are you?" and "holy shit!" (the video contains some adult language and scenes). 


A photograph of the installation, with search window and video projection, courtesy of Julian Palacz

It's a perfect example of what Lev Manovich described as database cinema, replacing the linear experience of watching a narrative film with an interactive, associative experience. Palacz outlines his conceptual framework for the piece in an artist's statement:

In a time in which digital cultural assets far outweigh analog, the ease with which we can now amass and exchange material has resulted in large personal collections of media data (music, films, series etc.). Julian Palacz has devised and developed a search engine that is able to enter text to search personal film and video archives for spoken language. An individual collection of films thus becomes a database of keywords and every spoken word or phrase in the archives can be searched. By entering a sentence like “I love her,” all film or video clips with this phrase will be shown in sequence. The selection of keywords therefore determines the process of resequencing image and sound in the film material. Algorithmic search for love creates an algorithm that unfurls for the viewer new possibilities for audiovisual narratives.

For more work by Julian Palacz, visit http://palacz.at/.

Via Curiosity Counts

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/01/database-cinema-an-instant-movie-mashup-generator/252050/