Adib Fricke

Keywords Make the World Go Round

Search terms that lead you to The Word Company

Which words in the search query “difference michaelangelo’s painting and leonardo da vini” lead to The Word Company? What was the key guiding factor in the queries “berlin biennale für zeitgenössische kunst” or “kopenhagen sex”? To what extent can the search engines reduce a search request’s root words? What differences exist in the algorithms for deriving essential information? As long as the information remains as formal symbols there is nothing to fear. Recognizing and interpreting “slips” is still a human strength. The machine remains gloriously stupid, even the global one.

The list of the submitted search terms, “Neologism” and “Leonardo da Vinci” were the favorites, has been re-linked to the web site and registered as a data file with the search engines. When will we learn more than we already know? Will the market leaders always be confirmed due to their market leadership and those at the top of the charts by being top? When a state of endless recursion reigns in which search engines and web sites ultimately refer to themselves, then we leave the web with the knowledge that simply everything that there is is there. What would be the last web page that you could call up? “The Mountain Calls”, a film title that has practically become a catch phrase thought of invertedly: It makes no difference to the echo what it throws back.

Parrots were utilized in the Indian election campaign this year. Ornithologists taught them slogans along with the names of the candidates as a medium for rural areas with a high level of illiteracy. In the refuge of art Louise Lawler imitated the cries of birds in 1972. In her work “Bird Calls” she herself plays a parrot and a duck. She cries out the names of male colleagues—craws “Joseph”, chatters “Gilbert”, and quacks “George”, whenever an artist’s name appears in red print on the posters belonging to the work.

In the mid-sixties the restaurant chain Wienerwald [“Viennese Woods”] decided to use fake parrots as an advertising gimmick. A battery-powered miniature record player placed inside the bird was supposed to announce why the stove should stay turned off tonight—the central advertising message of the chicken grill. However, once the mechanical beasts were finished the chicken king Friedrich Jahn did not want them anymore. The item also did not attract any interest at inventors conventions until Walter Thiele, the inventor, stuffed the device in a sock and as an expression of his frustration wrote in big letters “Lachsack” [“laugh sack”] on the outside. More than 120 million have been sold to date.

The Jakes Ladder Theatre Company in London wanted to include a parrot in a play for children. Perched on the shoulder of one of the protagonists, the parrot’s rehearsals for “The Pirates of Treasure Island” proceeded without a glitch. Percy spoke the lines that he was supposed to. Later, however, he replaced what he had already learned. Who knows where this new knowledge came from. But because he suddenly called out “piss off buddy” and “shove off” he was no longer allowed on stage. Children could not be subjected to that kind of language, a line of thought that is, by the way, a popular argument for censorship the world over.

Finally, imagine the following as an art work: a parrot sitting on his perch in an exhibition reciting words from The Word Company. What will happen to him after the exhibition? Will he find a spot in a museum as living exhibit? Or will a zoo purchase him as a work of art and place him in the hall of a central building? Is the art work going to disappear upon the parrot’s death? Or is there perhaps a score, that is, a set of instructions that can be used to train young birds. Imagine a concert with three parrots.


The list with the search terms is no longer available. Instead see the projects Jam from Mexico and Words with double r.
© 1999 Adib Fricke.