Arts and Culture

What is love? (And five other Google searches.)

What is love? Do I have free will? Is there anybody out there? 

These are some of life’s universal questions—questions that many of us, in fact, may bring to Google Search. And while Search can help us get started, we were curious to see what would happen if we brought in performing and visual artists in the UK.

Google Arts & Culture teamed up with BBC Arts to produce “You Asked, Art Answered,” our first collaboration with the BBC. In an unconventional pairing of Search Trends with art, six UK artists from different fields, including the visual arts, poetry and choreography, chose one question and created an imaginative short film to illustrate their response.

  1. Is there is anybody out there?” Spoken word artist Salena Godden goes “behind the internet” to give her response.
  2. What does it mean to be British?” British-Iranian visual artist and provocateur Sarah Maple asked members of the public in the UK, and lip-synced their answers while dressed up as different British icons.
  3. How do you know you’re in love?” Writer, performer and illustrator Jessie Cave uses her own script and special characters and illustrations to explore possible responses.
  4. What is love?” Artist Andy Holden’s avatar seeks the answers as he wanders through a cartoon world and recites lyrics to well-known pop songs.
  5. Do I have free will?” In choreographer and dancer Jamiel Laurence’s energetic piece, two dancers tussle for control over themselves and each other. 
  6. What if I fall?” In “Sensational Simmy,” writer and filmmaker Runyararo Mapfumo imagines a champion runner who faces challenges on her way home one night.

The artists also delved into our partners’ virtual collections on Google Arts & Culture and, using our search tools like Themes, Mediums and Historical Figures, each choose six artworks that correspond to their question. With images ranging from Picasso to Daffy Duck, Andy Holden hopes we might learn something new about the meaning of love. Sarah Maple, enlightening us about British identity, opted for a photo of the Queen laughing and Sarah Lucas’s “Self Portrait with Fried Eggs.” You can explore their selections, and read exclusive interviews with each artist, on our website. Watch the full films on BBC Arts.