Monday, April 23, 2012

The Whale Hunt

One of my favorite pieces of work by Jonathan Harris,

"I documented the entire experience with a plodding sequence of 3,214 photographs, beginning with the taxi ride to Newark airport, and ending with the butchering of the second whale, seven days later. The photographs were taken at five-minute intervals, even while sleeping (using a chronometer), establishing a constant “photographic heartbeat”. In moments of high adrenaline, this photographic heartbeat would quicken (to a maximum rate of 37 pictures in five minutes while the first whale was being cut up), mimicking the changing pace of my own heartbeat.

First, to experiment with a new interface for human storytelling. The photographs are presented in a framework that tells the moment-to-moment story of the whale hunt. The full sequence of images is represented as a medical heartbeat graph along the bottom edge of the screen, its magnitude at each point indicating the photographic frequency (and thus the level of excitement) at that moment in time. A series of filters can be used to restrict this heartbeat timeline, isolating the many sub stories occurring within the larger narrative (the story of blood, the story of the captain, the story of the arctic ocean, etc.). Each viewer will experience the whale hunt narrative differently, and not necessarily in a linear fashion, constructing his or her own understanding of the experience.

Harvesting the whale
Second, to subject myself to the same sort of incessant automated data collection process that I usually write computer programs to conduct (in previous projects like We Feel Fine, Lovelines, Universe, 10x10, and Phylotaxis). Much effort is spent making computers understand what it’s like to be human (through data mining and artificial intelligence), but rarely do humans try to see things from a computer’s perspective. I was interested in reaching some degree of empathy with the computer, a constant thankless helper in my work."


No comments:

Post a Comment