In this video, artist Taryn Simon describes how she created her own archives of bloodlines through photography, text and design, using a clinical documentary approach to examine the social codes and histories that bind a genealogical tree.

The work ‘A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters’ draws from anthropological traditions of photography to provide an overview of family relations through personal trajectories and outside forces of state, governance and religion; particularly bringing to light the individuals and relations that these outside forces continue to render invisible.

The artist has also worked with the late programmer and activist Aaron Schwartz to create a novel web search engine where large selections of images are used to provide a bird’s eye view of cultural and social differences. The projet, ‘Image Atlas‘, indexes top image results for given search terms across local engines throughout the world. Visitors can refine or expand their comparisons from 57 countries, and sort by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or alphabetical order.

Searching for the word ‘immigrant’, stark differences appear, exposing how this question cuts across national boundaries but is also tightly interwoven in local politics, hopes and anxieties.