Your random internet questions answered… by art

In theory, the internet has put the sum total of human knowledge at our fingertips. And if you take a look at our search engine histories, you’ll see we really put it to the test with the questions we ask it.

As amazing as the internet is, it doesn’t always know how to respond to us. So in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, we enlisted some of Britain’s best artistic talent to tackle some of our more philosophical queries. The result: You Asked, Art Answered.

What does it mean to be British?

In her short film artist Sarah Maple explores the question what does it mean to be British? Her unique approach saw her asking members of the public in her hometown of Crawley what they think it means to be British before lip syncing their responses dressed as British icons.

Sarah is an award-winning visual artist known her bold, surprising and thought-provoking artworks that explore notions of identity, gender, religion and the status quo. Much of Sarah’s work is inspired by her own mixed religious and cultural upbringing. Born to an Indian Muslim mother who lived in Kenya and an English father, Sarah was brought up as a Muslim in Eastbourne and then Crawley.

Guess we’re fairly patriotic, royal family, afternoon tea, rubbish weather

Member of the British public, interviewed by Sarah Maple for What does it mean to be British?

What is love?

In his short animation artist Andy Holden tries to get to the bottom of what love actually is. A cartoon version of Andy wanders through a cartoon world and muses on what answers pop music might have to that question.

Andy lives and works in Bedford. He is a hugely prolific artist, animator and musician inspired by ideas, science, literature, the natural world, music and popular culture. He has exhibited all over the world, most recently at Bristol Museum and Somerset House in London.

I want to know what it is and I want you to show me

Andy Holden, What is love?

Does Andy’s digital avatar have the answer? | Image: Andy Holden

Is there anybody out there?

In her short film Salena Godden uses poetry to address the much asked question - is there anybody out there? Salena wonders what it might be like ‘round the back of the Internet’ in a world without people.

Salena is a British poet, author and performer. She has been at the forefront of spoken word poetry in the UK for 25 years, a trailblazer and champion of the art form. She is the author of Pessimism is for Lightweights, and a regular broadcaster on BBC TV and radio.

The air smelled of wires, and old tooth fillings and burnt plastic

Salena Godden, Is there anybody out there?

How do you know you’re in love?

In this sketch comedian and illustrator Jessie Cave tries to answer the conundrum of how do you know you’re in love. She’s joined on her quest by papier mâché characters of her own creation.

Jessie Cave is an illustrator, writer, performer and stand-up comedian. Her drawings and solo shows are honest witty and offbeat takes on friendship, dating and love.

I’m in a middle amount of love with my kick boxing teacher, Sandra.

Jessie Cave, How do you know you’re in love?

Do I have free will?

In his short film choreographer and film-maker Jamiel Laurence examines the concept of free will. Two dancers, Guy Salim and Anna Knowles, tussle for control, over themselves and each other, while an explosive industrial soundtrack pumps through the space.

Filmed in anamorphic widescreen to capture every movement, the film is an exploration of freedom and control, predetermination and chance.

Jamiel is a professional ballet dancer, choreographer and film-maker. His creative work has been shown in a variety of settings including Celtic Connections, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and San Francisco International Dance Film Festival.

Jamiel Laurence directs on the set of Do I have free will? | Image: Michelle Tofi
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What if I fall?

In her short drama Sensational Simmy, writer and filmmaker Runyararo Mapfumo offers an imaginative and dramatic response to the question what if I fall? The film focuses on a champion runner and the unexpected challenge she faces making her way home late one night.

Runyararo Mapfumo has directed a number of short films that have been selected for festivals such as BFI London Film Festival and London Short Film Fest. Her short film Masterpiece has been seen by more than 200,000 viewers on Vimeo.

You can see it on her face. Determination.

Runyararo Mapfumo, Sensational Simmy

To see more innovative short films from young British artists, check out BBC Introducing Arts.

Runyararo Mapfumo (far left) with the cast of Sensational Simmy | Image: Kimberly Verma