Each decade the United States government embarks on a census of its entire population in order to update population numbers and demographic information that aids in the allocation of Congressional seats, electoral votes, and government program funding. But as helpful and interesting as this data is, what does it really tell us about who we are? What about our likes, dislikes, feelings, and the ways we choose to define ourselves? In his project A More Perfect Union, artist R. Luke Dubois asked this very question and set out to answer it by joining 21 dating web sites and aggregating language used in the profiles of 19 million people. The data was then organized to create dozens of insanely detailed city and state maps that tell a wonderfully rich story about who we are, or at least, who we claim to be. Via his artist statement:
To join a dating site you have to, quite literally, “put yourself out there”, describing yourself for the express purpose of being liked. This seemingly simple act is quite complex. You have to provide, in addition to some basic statistics, two pieces of prose: you have to say who you are, and you have to say who you want to be with. In the second piece of writing, you have to tell the truth. In the first, you have to lie.
I joined twenty-one dating sites in order to make my own census of the United States in 2010. These are my findings: a road atlas of the United States, with the names of cities, towns, and neighborhoods replaced with the words people use to describe themselves and those they want to be with.
These maps contain 20,262 unique words, based on the analysis of online dating profiles from 19,095,414 single Americans.
Below are some examples of maps where locations are substituted with words people used to describe themselves. Click any image for more detail.
DuBois also used the data to generate heatmaps helping to draw comparisons between specific terms county by county.
A More Perfect Union was shown at bitforms gallery in New York earlier this year. Take a deep dive into the maps Dubois created at his website, and check out a short video about the project. (thnx, leif!)
Just saw this new item pop up at my favorite Icelandic design shop, Birkiland. The Nordurmyrin by 7-9-13 Design Group is a meat cutting board designed to mimic the streets of an actual neighborhood in east Reykjavik.
Nordurmyrin is a meat cutting- and serving board. It draws its name from a neighbourhood in the old east of Reykjavik. Its street names are named after renowned characters in the old icelandic sagas: Landnama, Laxdaela and Njala. These are examples of the street names: Audargata, Gudrunargata, Gunnarsbraut and Skarphedinsgata. When meat is cut on the board the blood juices rush down the streets. It refers to the conflicts that arose in the societies of the second and third generations of Icelandic settlers.
The blood juices run down the streets?! Excuse me while I put on my Bill the Butcher costume and whip out the credit card, this cutting board is the most gruesomely awesome kitchen implement of 2011.
It’s hard to believe that almost ten years now separate us from September 11, 2001, a tragic, world-changing day forever seared in our memories as we watched the attacks unfold on CNN or encountered it firsthand on the streets of New York and elsewhere. As the anniversary approaches and the discussion begins on how best to remember and retell the events of that day artist Ramón Espantaleón has begun work his personal response. A native of Madrid, Espantaleón not only endured 9/11 while living in the United States, but returned home to experience the Madrid train bombings in 2004.
First Apple is an ambitious work that seeks to recreate various scale models of New York City and in some cases to map these three dimensional renderings to the Twin Towers themselves. To create the base Espantaleón painstakingly constructed Manhattan in clay by forming 31,920 volumetric units each representing actual buildings, at a scale of 1/65. These volumes were then used to create pixelated city blocks from which he cast silicon molds that could in turn be used to reproduce each block with epoxy resin and polyurethane. This reproducible method allowed for a potentially unlimited exploration of space, color, material (and in some cases typography) resulting in the varied forms of architectural model pointillism you see above.
In total there are 11 individual artworks soon to be displayed in Madrid and an additional 11 Espantaleón seeks to display in New York. Learn about the project via his web site Landspot. A huge thanks to Ramon for sharing his incredible work with Colossal, and thanks to our mutual friend Jeff for making the introduction!