Monday, November 17, 2008

Artists of networks in network

We haven't really talked about artists, and I just ran into one. His name is Jonathan Harris. He's a programmer who develops attractive and intuitive ways to monitor the content that's moving around on the net.

He has one piece called "We feel fine" that searches blog posts for the phrase "I feel" and grabs the sentence. He presents these sentences, and then offers a few tools to break down, such as weather, location, gender and so on. Right now, the word "accomplished" is coming up 5.5 times the normal level. Feeling better is more common than bad, but bad is more common than good, at the moment.

You can find this and other artworks at his website:

"We feel fine" came out in 2006, but you could find a similar presentation while the election results were coming in on the New York Times website.

When I think of artists as people who digest, simplify, and help us understand ourselves and our society, pointing out things we might have trouble seeing or have trouble accepting. I usually don't think of them doing this in respect to the internet. The net seems more like a commercial and expressive space. I like how this artist has positioned himself as a digester, between me and internet content, and that he is maintaining an identity as an artist. Not a web designer or a company. He's in deft command of technology, but doesn't identify primarily with it. He isn't constructing the messages, either, he's helping me focus on them, because without him, they would be scattered all over.

Somehow it's stuck in my mind.


Chris Rencontre said...

Sarah...thanks for that link. I encourage everyone to go take a look. The idea of building spaces of art that speak to the humanness of searching for love and meaning and therefore gaining an understanding of self... wow! The artistry and creativity required to build such a space is amazing. Give it a try!

Brian E said...

this reminds friend brendan has a program that builds a comic strip based on internet searches. you enter in a few search terms and it scours the internet and fills in a three frame comic strip. his rationale was to test whether randomness can be funny. not nearly as artistic as "we feel fine" but still pretty interesting.