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Exhibitions > Jonathan Harris & Sep Kamvar

Jonathan Harris | Designer
Jonathan Harris

Jonathan Harris (b. 1979, USA) studied computer science at Princeton University before winning a 2004 Fabrica fellowship in Italy. He creates online projects that reimagine how humans relate to technology and to each other. These combine elements of computer science, statistics, anthropology, visual art and storytelling. His projects range from building the world's largest time capsule to documenting a whale hunt in the Arctic. He is the recipient of three Webby Awards and two Honorary Mentions from Ars Electronica and was named a 2009 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He has exhibited at the Pompidou Centre and MoMA, New York, where he was commissioned to create I Want You to Want Me, a data-mining project that explores the world of online dating.

Sep Kamvar | Designer
Sep Kamvar

Sep Kamvar (b. 1977, USA) received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a PhD in Scientific Computing from Stanford University. He is currently a professor at the MIT media Lab. His research focuses on data-mining in large-scale networks. He founded Kaltix, a search engine that was acquired by Google in 2003. From 2003 to 2007, he was the engineering lead of personalisation at Google, responsible for Personalized Search and iGoogle. Kamvar collaborates with Jonathan Harris on projects examining the dynamics of information exchange in social networking sites. His work is in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

We Feel Fine, 2005 (ongoing)
Data-mining software has been used in this piece since 2005 to search blogs from around the globe. For the web-based work We Feel Fine, the words ‘Feel' or ‘Feeling' are identified by the data-mining software. The sentence in which the words feature is scooped up and added to an ever-growing database of feelings. This database can be filtered and manipulated, sorted and evaluated according to gender, city, year or the current weather conditions.

We Feel Fine is an exploration of human emotion. It continually harvests sentences containing the phrase "I feel" or "I am feeling" from the Internet's newly posted blog entries, saves them in a database, and displays them in an interactive Java applet, which runs in a web browser. Each dot represents a single person's feeling. The color of each dot corresponds to the type of feeling it represents (bright dots are happy, dark dots are sad), and the diameter of each dot indicates the length of the sentence inside. Demographic information (age, gender, location, and weather) is also collected and displayed. Photo montages with text / image overlays are automatically constructed from photographs and feeling sentences that occur in the same blog entry. We Feel Fine collects around 15,000 new feelings per day, and has saved over 13 million feelings since 2005, forming a constantly evolving portrait of human emotion. 

Use mouse to begin.
Touchscreen monitors, live database and custom software (C++)
Courtesy of the artists

Design Museum Website questionnaire with Jonathan Harris

When did you realize you wanted to be a designer?

I don't consider myself a designer.  I just try to make interesting things.

How would you define your design style?

Simple, playful, universal.

What would you do if you were not a designer?

I would be a writer.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Things that haunt me.

Who do you consult about works?

Underwater swimming.

Which of your projects do you consider a success?

We Feel Fine, The Whale Hunt, I Want You To Want Me, Today

Which of your projects do you consider a failure?

Universe, The Time Capsule, Lovelines, Phylotaxis, and many more

To what extent do you believe that design should be functional?

As long as it's interesting.

Name a colleague you admire.

Werner Herzog.

With which personality from the past would you like to have coffee?

Frank Lloyd Wright.

Which materials interest you most?

Empty space.

What advice would you give a designer at the start of his career or what advice would you have liked to receive at the start of your career?

You will be known for doing what you do.  So if you want to become known for doing something, then start doing that thing as soon as you possibly can.

What are your future projects?

We'll see.

Other Works by the Artists

From the Exhibition
We Feel Fine, 2005
Some introductory notes on Vision and Observation
Itamar Levi
Read More »
A Future View of the Present
Maayan Fuss, Tal Amit
Li Edelkoort outlines the trends that will be important in the world of design in the future. Take a look at the works of designers who are ahead of their time.
Read More »
The Chair That Wanted to Be a Rabbit
Tal Amit
An interview with designer Nikola Nikolov, reveals a designer who does not let go of old memories, but creates new designs from them.
Read More »
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