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We Feel Fine. Please welcome story teller and artist Jonathan Harris. Hello, thank you for hosting me here in your lovely water filled city. So today I am going to talk to you a little bit about how my work has evolved over the last six or seven years and than at the end I am actually going to be sharing with you a new project that I haven't shown anybody yet and hasn't launched yet, so little surprise. So I started in a very traditional way, I used to keep these sketch books which I still keep today, this is a page from one of them and they would be filled with records of my life as I was living at everything from dead insects to pasted flowers to ticket stuffs, water colored paintings drawings and as I was traveling in living life I would try to keep these pages everyday serving as a record of what what I was doing and I became very interested in this this process of documenting life as I was living at, but you know I also began to feel limited by the fact that this this was only my view of the world, my view of the experience and I was looking for something a little bit more broad. So around this time I became interested in collecting not only my own artifacts but also the artifacts of other people. So I started collecting found objects and these were often photographs and notes and letters that I would find lying on the street corners, this is a photograph I found in a street in in New York city about seven years ago and it's a torn photograph and on the back it says "To Judy, the girl with the Balbeli voice, have fun in whatever you do" and then you can't see the rest. And I - there was something that I found really moving about having this partial glimpse into somebody's private life and I actually find it more moving than a fore glimpse into somebody's private life and I think there is some thing very tantalizing about that partial view of things - you know it's it's that idea of going down a city street at night and peering into lit windows or you know in a horror movie that the killers are always far scarier before he actually reveals himself than after he reveals himself you know a woman in Lingerie is far sexier that a woman with no clothes on. So you know all of these things I think are testament to the the tantalizing power of the partial glimpse and that's something plays a big role in a lot of the work that I do So also around this time I began studying computer science, I was studying at Princeton University in in the States and I began to notice that a lot of people's artifacts, the kinds that used to get left in street corners were now getting posted to websites and this was happening in a in a very large scale as we saw a moment ago through the photo sense demonstrations and I became very interested in in studying these footprints that people were living behind that told stories of their human lives but did so in the secondary way, that involved surveillance and and artifacts of expression so I started to write computer programs that study very large sets of these online foot prints to try to understand things about the people that left those footprints. So one example of that is a project called "we feel fine" which is about a year old now and this is a project that scans the worlds newly posted Blog entries every two or three minutes searching for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" or "I am feeling" and one - one of those phrases is found, the full sentences collected up to the sentence boundary so that might be something like you know "I feel cold because it's rainy in Amsterdam" or "I feel tired because I didn't get much sleep on the flight over" and if any time if somebody posts the sentence like one of these that sentence would get collected and added in to this growing database and this database grows at the rate of about 20,000 new feelings per day and in all it's collected over nine million feelings now since it began This is then how the feelings are presented as a swarming mass of individual particles, each of these particles represents a sentence posted by somebody on a Blog in the last few hours, the color of each dot corresponds to the type of feelings in sides of the bright colored dots are happy feelings and the dark colored dots are are more sad negative feelings. The diameter of each dot corresponds to the length of the sentence inside so I don't want him to feel he has to answer. I feel that some of my readers who don't know me personally in real life may be interested in finding out more about me and mostly wanted to know where this Blog is headed so these are all statements that people have written on their Blogs. I can tease you like hell and then please tell the feels in heaven yeah exactly so so you see that these dots start to exhibit human qualities, they exhibit things like curiosity, right now some of them are clustering around the cursor, they also exhibit things like fear so if I click the background the ones will will run away from the cursor and this is very important to me in the work that I produce that the way something is expressed visually corresponds to the nature of the thing being expressed. So in this case, since these dots represents human lives, they have to posses these human qualities but that will be in a very abstract form So there is a few different movements of this piece, this one is called madness, the next one is called murmurs which causes all of the dots to rise to the ceiling and then one by one they join this scrolling list. I feel like he appreciates my love more than anyone else in the world, I feel like I will die if I had to go a day without seeing you - it was someone in the UK few hours ago, so any of these can be clicked and you can go out and connect with Blog post from which these sentences were taken. The next movement is called montage which causes all of the feelings that contain photographs to form a grid. So in this case, if a blog post contains the phrase "I feel" and also contains a photograph, they will be connected together and then this photograph would be set to represent one person who feels that way and any of these can be can be opened up - I think part of it is she likes to embarrass people and make them feel uneasy - I woke up feeling sick and weak, any of these can be saved, when that happens they join a collaboratively edited gallery on the website that the viewers of this piece evolve over time, so there have been thousands of these montages that have been saved and emailed on to friends and when that happens, they automatically join this gallery. So in some sense the viewers of the peace can also become the curators of the piece. The next movement is called mobs which provide various statistical looks into the population this one on feeling shows you the feeling break down of the population in the last several hours. So the most common feeling right now is better, it turns out that better is usually the most common feeling followed by good and bad, guilty, comfortable and so on, you can also see a gender breakdown and it's about equal right now, women are slightly more prolific than man blogging. In an age break down, it's really dominated by people that are in their twenties followed by teenagers and it peters off from there. The next one shows you the weather conditions of the time each sentence was written, so the sunny ones scroll around as if they are part of a sunset, the cloudy ones float along as if they are on a breeze, the rainy ones fall down like outside right now and the snowy ones flutter to the ground and again you can stop any of these rain drops and and open it and see what's - what the person has written and then lastly location shows you the positions on a world map from which these feelings were found giving you a sense of the geographical breakdown, matrix provides a slightly more statistical look at things and you can see that the world is feeling confused right now, it's 7.3 times the normal level and we get 4.9 times the normal level and so on and the final movement is called mounts which visualizes the most common feelings overall as large gelatinous blogs. It's just kind of a playful thing and if you hold on the cursor, the blogs will do a little dance and you can see that this is actually about four or five thousand feelings that are tracked by "we feel fine" and they descend frequency as this list scrolls you can see the little pink square running along the bottom there representing our position in all of the feelings. So if we stop, we can see the 552 people who feel paranoid or the people that feel simple. There is also a way to search for a specific population, so if you are interested in looking at - lets say women who feel lazy in their twenties when it's raining, you know in the Netherlands - you know a maybe somewhere in this room now and you can also select for a specific date to see for example what people are feeling on valentines day So what I am going to show you now are some of my favorites montages that has been collected by "we feel fine" "I feel so much of my dad alive in me that there isn't even room for me", "I feel very lonely, I need to be in some backwards redneck town so that I can feel beautiful", "I feel skinny but I am not", "I don't know I feel like there have already been a few red flags", "I feel like I am losing the battle today - I feel like I am losing the battle", "I cant wait to see them rising for the first time at Daytona next month because I feel the need for speed", "I feel invisible to you", "I feel some art coming on", "I feel sexy", "I feel so white trash right now", "I have been feeling bored and desperate for attention", "I have kissed numerous other boys and it hasn't felt good, the kiss felt messy and wrong but kissing Lukas feels beautiful and almost spiritual", "I wouldn't hide that the society didn't make me feel like I needed to", "I feel in love with Caroline", "I feel sort of naughty", "I feel these weirdoes are actually an asset to college life", "I love how I feel today" So "we feel fine" uses something that I often call passive observation and what I mean by that is that it passively observes the people that are covered by this project as they are living their lives and this is in opposition to asking people directly and the reason that I like passive observation is because I think it leads to very honest candid findings because people don't know that they are being watched, they are just they are just going about their lives as usual, so that's the technique that I like to use a lot but you know it can also be useful to ask people directly sometimes and that's a a different approach which I explored in a project that came right after we feel fine called the time capsule which was commissioned by Yahoo and the time capsule was designed to take the fingerprint of the world in 2006 and we did that by selecting ten very simply universal themes and affiliating with each of those themes a simple open ended question, so things like "what you love?", "what make you angry?", "what makes you sad?" - This was all translated into ten languages and then posted to the world for one month in October of 2006 and people could then respond to those questions using one of five simple techniques words, pictures, sound, videos and drawings And people people submitted some amazing stuff into the time capsule and it came from all over the world in many different languages and then the contents were sealed up and donated to the Smithsonian museum in in Washington where that will be unveiled again in 2020. And this event was punctuated by a really amazing three day extravaganza really done in the desert outside of the Albuquerque, New Mexico which is in the south west of the United States and for a three straight nights, the contents of the time capsule were projected onto the ancient red rock canyon walls of the Jemez Pueblo which is a sacred site and and the contents were also translated into binary code and beamed into outer space using a laser which is that green line that you can see rising from the desert floor and then bouncing back off of a mirror and then you see this amazing pyramid of light that was created overhead using thirty laser beams in a one mile diameter and you know I was out here in the desert, it was it was very cold and you could see millions of stars, the sky was so dark and I was up on this distant hill taking this photograph and I I thought there was something really amazing about all of these human stories being projected up into the night sky and when I was looking at that, I started to think about the night sky and think about how humans have actually always projected their great stories into the night sky and you know famously the Greeks created a lot of constellations that we are aware of still today like this one Orion the hunter which you can always identify by the star belt and I started thinking a lot about this process of constellation making and and whether if we could make new constellations today in today's night sky, what would those be and and how would we go about deciding, would we establish some international panel of experts who would then vote, would it be put to the masses in a in a truly populous referendum or whether there be some other technique and you know based on what I do I was interested in trying to look to the data to to answer this question, so I worked with a company in New York called day life which I was working with at that time to use their global news data - day life tracks about ten thousand new sources in the English language all around the world and using the news data collected from day life, try to understand what are the what are the things that are getting the most coverage internationally in the world and therefore using that as a proxy for understanding the things that are most important to the largest number of the people in the world and that all led to this project called "Universe" which is all about trying to understand whether is a mythology that exist today that's a global mythology and this is in opposition to "we feel fine" which very much focuses on the small scale stories of individual people living their individual lives Universe on the other hand is much more concerned with whether there might be some set of global stories that are affecting all of our lives and so Universe presents a an interactive night sky, the background of which is shifting color filled reminiscent of an aroraborialis and the color of that - shifting color filled can be controlled just by touching the single line of of color down here at the bottom and and then these stars that move across the sky are not just arbitrary points of light but they actually connect to specific things that have happened in the real world. And so as I moved my mouse around, you can start to see that some of these stars begin to connect to one another, you can see that the outline of a human head here and and the beginnings of a word over here and and another's another head but smaller, so I can turn all of those on and those would represent the constellations of today. Now what I have done for this talk is I have I have restricted this Universe to the Universe of of Burma, some of you might have been watching the news and seeing the amazing demonstrations of tens of thousands of monks marching through the streets of Rangoon and Mandalay over the last six days and I traveled to Burma about five years ago and actually some of those sketches I showed at the beginning were from there and I have been following this this story very closely because I had I had loved to see some change happen there so anyway it's also possible so see universe of the whole world but I have restricted this one to the Universe of Burma over the past week So we can isolate just the words and in this restricted universe of Burma, you can see things like "Monks", "Myanmar", "Military" "Government", "Protests", "People", "Yangon", "Buddhists" - these are these are the things that are shaping life right now on the ground in Burma. And now the concept behind universe is to think about a new metaphor for organizing information other than the web page and the web page is a metaphor we have lived with for a long time on the internet and I would I would believe that it's a broken metaphor and I believe that there is there exists better ways to structure information and mainly I think that relies on relationships So in Universe anything can be selected and when it's selected, it becomes the center of the universe and everything that relates to it enters into its orbit. So this is a system where any node in this massive connected graph can become the first order node and all of the other related nodes will will reposition themselves based on proximity to the center. So again you can click on anything, it can be a quote, it can be story, it can be a word like protest and then within protests we can isolate the photographs that involved protests, we can open up one of these photographs and now you can see this this image of monks marching through the rain covered streets, you can isolate out things like the quotes which I call statements and the snapshots photographs than the superstars which would be the the people and the places and the companies that are shaping this universe, in this case it's Aung Sang Suchi, Rangoon, George Bush and so on. Also the settings giving you a sense of which places around the world are covering this most closely and finally time give you a sense of the magnitude of of importance of the mythology of this place if you will over time So on the last week, Tuesday was the day where they had the largest marches, so that got a lot of coverage. So anyway universe can be used to to view any type of news, you could look at the universe of love, the universe of war or the universe of Iraq or the universe of everything, the universe of Amsterdam and this this project is public and online so you can all go in and and look through it. So as you have probably noticed, a lot of my work involves setting up very simple rules and instructing computer programs to follow those rules and then instructing those computer programs to iterate overtime doing these rules over and over again. So "we feel fine" for example takes the rule - look for the phrase "I feel" and do it insistently all the time and it's been doing this for over a year now and a lot of the other work that I have done that I am not showing today also involves writing rules and this spring I become interested in trying to reach some degree of empathy with the computer which is this constant thankless helper in most of the work that I do. So I wondered what it would be like to subject myself to own - to the same sorts of rules that I typically write computer programs to follow and that led to a new project called the "Whale hunt". The Whale hunt has been coming together over the last several months, it started in May when I spent nine days Barrow Alaska which is the northern most settlement in the United States living with the family of Inupiat Eskimos as they conducted there annual spring Whale hunt on the artic ocean and I went up there and I set up the rule for myself that I would photograph the entire experience beginning with the taxi ride in new York city and ending whenever it ended - I would photograph the entire experience at five minute intervals even when I was sleeping, I would use a timer to take pictures and further more when exciting things were happening I would quicken the pace of photography too much more than one photo every five minutes so what this would produce eventually is a sequence of images that would match the changing pace of my own heart beat as it speeds up and slows down So this led to 3214 pictures documenting this seven day experience starting with the taxi ride ending with the butchering of the second whale - we saw two whales cut harpooned and pulled up on to the ice and butchered. This is what our our camp looked like and this is the cast of people that were involved, this is basically one family of Inupiat Eskimos called the [0:22:20] ____ family. The captain who is kind of the patriarch is Simon he is the guy in the bottom row second from the right. He is 83 years old I believe and his adopted son Crawford is two people above him with the sunglasses on looking left. The harpooners Abe in the top left corner, he is the one that actually threw the harpoon that got the whale. So what I am going to show is what I have done with all of this material. So this is the whale hunt interface for viewing this timeline of images. The graph that you see at the bottom is reminiscing of a medical heart beat graph and this shows the excitement level and you know deduced from the photographic frequency at each point over the seven day period. So you can see spikes in the graph, first right here this is when I was getting dressed to go out on to the artic ocean for the first time then down here when whales were being harpooned and butchered which happened at the very end. Down here, these are things like the flight leaving new York and going up to Alaska and and this is touring around Barrow which is the the town where these people live and so you can step through these images one by one, this is the initial letter of intend that I send up to Barrow whaling captains association. This is some of the the permits and things that we had to apply for so really every moment is documented and you can - you can you know click on any position in this in this experience, this is me reading Mobydick on the airplane there are some more Mobydick on the airplane, there is the seat, this is the airport in anchorage, our flight got delayed and we waited there for a while. This is the room I was sleeping in in the basement of the [0:24:11] ____ family's house for the first few days before we set out to the ocean. This is one of the local restaurants, that's me sleeping so there is whole sequences of eight hours of me sleeping which isn't very exciting to watch and then finally we made it out on to the ice and this is kind of what camp looked like, this is Ron one of the guys form behind. He was looking out for whales. Basically this this water that you see there is called the lead and this opens up in the spring when the ice flow and through this lead the whales migrate north toward - to the artic circle where they spend the summer time and then you know here is a couple of the guys talking, there is Ron again from the front this time, cutting up a whale. This is the whale on the ice going after a whale, there is there is many moments obviously I am not going to go through all of them but what I want to show you now is the second objective of this project, the first was to subject myself to these rules like computer programs usually do and the second was to experiment with a new interface for human story telling and the way I went about doing that was to to take a very epic real world experience like this whale hunt documented insistently - apply a lot of metadata to each piece of documentation so each photograph and then create a framework to on earth patterns and sub stories that are happening within the larger stories. So if you think about story telling and most of the mediums that we have for story telling, things like movies, books, songs, verbal stories they are usually focused around a narrator figure or a camera position and you watch this one account of the story and that's kind of how you how you take it Photographs I think are a little bit different because they allow a little bit more ambiguity in terms of what you look at but you know really if you think about life, life isn't that way at all I mean in life there you have - there is always some meta story going on like right now may be the meta story is that we are all here at PICNIC but there is all of these sub stories, there is probably you know business deals happening and somebody that just left to have a pie and you know other people that may be met and will fall in love some day and you know all of this stuff is always happening around us and those are the sub stories that happen, that don't often get surfaced so I was interested in creating ways to start to surface those sub stories. So there is a whole bunch of ways that you can take the story and filter it. So you could for example look at the story of Howard and Simon involving the concept of blood on the artic ocean, with acutance of fast, this is the heart beat level and now that we - now we riddle down the the story to 34 matching photographs and you see the timeline has changed or reflected and then once you have done that you can you can browse the sub stories, so now this - this is the [0:27:14] ____ family standing with their whale, this is them celebrating, this represents their food source for about a year, for the whole community not just this family This is them pulling the the blubber away. So there there is infinite ways to slice and dice this this experience using using these these lenses and and so every experience with that is a little bit different based on based on what you are what you are interested in saying so this project isn't live yet. It will be live in may be a couple of months so at that point, you can look it out - look for it but that's I think I am out of time so I will I will stop there but thanks very much for your attention.