Humans have a tendency to fixate on the binary division between computing and the natural world. There’s a keen irony here, as it is humans themselves who are perhaps the greatest example of a fluid natural/digital boundary.
People in the 21st century have become a combination of their real-world bodies and their digital presence: a juxtaposition of real world networks and virtual social ones, personal assistants and digital assistants, mental calendars and Google calendars, religious avatars and gaming avatars.
The Digital Forest explores this artificial division by attempting to draw parallels between a real forest of atoms, and one made purely of electrons. The Digital Forest is a graphic generated in real-time, directly from the search results of Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
This means that, like a real forest, there’s a naturally occurring chaos in its creation. While a real forest is dependent on weather and animals as its random factors, the Digital Forest depends on Bing’s obscure algorithm, which websites are popular and how those websites optimise themselves to be found.
Beyond this, the Digital Forest highlights the logic and fallibility behind the somewhat invisible process of determining search results. As the forest changes, viewers are reminded that search engines are constantly in flux, shaping our internet environment around us.