17_Non_Player_Character_03_Bob_Bicknell_Knight.jpg

Permadeath, 2022
HD video with sound
1 min 0 sec (looped)

Bob Bicknell-Knight’s Permadeath is a looping CGI video that depicts the grave of the defunct website ChaCha, a human-guided search engine that provided free, real-time answers to any question.

The site, which functioned from September 2006 - December 2016, enabled users to interact with live human beings (dubbed guides) through a chat window. The user would ask the guide questions which the guide would then search the internet for. Searching the internet was once a complicated experience, with users having to search through multiple pages, and potentially tweaking their search questions, before eventually finding what they were looking for. ChaCha's service enabled users to bypass this investigative process through the use of guides. As search engines became increasingly sophisticated, employing complex algorithms to hone their users’ searches, ChaCha swiftly became obsolete.

Permadeath is a gravestone for ChaCha, functioning as a work mourning the corporatisation of the internet, with popular search engines and social media sites continuing to exert control whilst fuelling conspiracy theories and alt-right extremism.