Jonathan Harris’s & Sep Kamvar’s most recent visualization project “I want you to want me“, explores the search for love and self in the world of online dating. Created for the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition at MoMA.
I Want You To Want Me chronicles the world’s long-term relationship with romance, across all ages, genders, and sexualities, gathering new data from a variety of online dating sites every few hours. The system searches these sites for certain phrases, which it then collects and stores in a database. These phrases, taken out of context, provide partial glimpses into people’s private lives. Simultaneously, the system forms an evolving zeitgeist of dating, tracking the most popular first dates, turn-ons, desires, self-descriptions and interests.
The data is presented as an interactive installation, displayed on a 56” high-resolution touch screen, hung vertically on a wall in a dark room. On screen is an interactive sky, whose weather (sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy, etc.) can be controlled by the viewer. Through the sky float hundreds of blue (male) and pink (female) balloons, each representing a single dating profile. The brighter balloons are younger people; the darker balloons older. Trapped inside each balloon is one of over 500 video silhouettes, showing a solitary person, engaged in any number of activities (yoga, jumping jacks, nose-picking, air guitar, etc.). The viewer can touch any balloon to select it, causing its photo to dangle from a string and its sentence to appear in a thought bubble overhead. Touching any balloon a second time pops it. The balloons move through the sky along different paths and at different speeds, bumping up against each other, sometimes traveling together for a time, but only ever getting so close, as each silhouette is ultimately confined to its own balloon.