Sex, Lies, and Data Mining with Luke DuBois

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Fantastic to be able to share the stunning talk at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation on November 10th, 2016 on “Sex, Lies and Data Mining” by Luke DuBois. Luke charted his artistic trajectory, from co-authoring Jitter, a software suite for the real-time manipulation of matrix data developed by San Francisco-based software company Cycling’74, to his latest projects in hard data visualization. Check it out!



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BCNM was pleased to host artist Luke DuBois at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation November 10th, 2016 to discuss “Sex, Lies, and Data Mining.” Luke charted his artistic trajectory, from co-authoring Jitter, a software suite for the real-time manipulation of matrix data developed by San Francisco-based software company Cycling’74, to his latest projects in hard data visualization. Luke explained how he first worked with synthesizers and created visualizations based on audio. He then began playing with “time-lapse sonography,” which collapsed classical composition, removing rhythms and melodies to reveal new harmonies. He applied this technique later to larger swaths of music, film and images, collapsing the history of American music, for instance, into 37 minutes (the 1970s is unsurprisingly in the F key!). This allowed Luke to uncover some of the formal aspects of the media he used — main characters in modern films, for example, are always in motion, meaning that they are erased from their own films when these artifacts are compressed. By creating a computational canon, Luke explores how our culture is outside of our control. Luke also began working in text based art, creating “Vision” tests for each of the Presidents based on their state of the union speeches. He applied this text analysis also to dating profiles to learn more about the average man and woman, drilling down to the zipcode level to investigate who we are, want to be, and would like. Luke ended with the most powerful of his works, an illustration of why data visualization fails. In New Orleans, he bought a gun used in a murder and placed it in a gallery filled with blanks. Each time a gun was shot in the city, the gallery gun fired, filling the vitrine with cartridges. Patrons of the gallery would feel disappointed when the gun did not fire when they visited, even though they were aware what the shot meant. In this way, Luke pointed out how graphs and figures fail, how data can hurt. All of his works evidence his larger goal of pushing against cultural homogeny through peacemaking.


It was a pleasure hosting Luke! If you want to see more of his work, visit the Minnesota Street Project, which is currently exhibiting his art in fifteen year anniversary showcase of Bitforms.


2016: Sex, Lies, and Data Mining with Luke DuBois


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R. Luke DuBois makes art using media and information as a material for making work that comments on the intersection of 21st century culture and our obsession with the quantification of our world. Working in a variety of media, DuBois focuses on the ways in which art can invoke the emotional, the speculative, and the big-picture narratives behind our century of data.


DuBois holds a doctorate in music composition from Columbia University, and has lectured and taught worldwide on interactive sound and video performance. He has collaborated on interactive performance, installation, and music production work with many artists and organizations including Toni Dove, Todd Reynolds, Jamie Jewett, Bora Yoon, Michael Joaquin Grey, Matthew Ritchie, Elliott Sharp, Michael Gordon, Maya Lin, Bang on a Can, Engine 27, Harvestworks, and LEMUR, and was the director of the Princeton Laptop Orchestra for its 2007 season.


Stemming from his investigations of “time-lapse phonography,” his work is a sonic and encyclopedic relative to time-lapse photography. Just as a long camera exposure fuses motion into a single image, his projects reveal the average sonority, visual language, and vocabulary in music, film, text, or cultural information. Exhibitions of his work include: the Insitut Valencià d’Art Modern, Spain; Haus der elektronischen Künste, Switzerland; 2008 Democratic National Convention, Denver; Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis; San Jose Museum of Art; National Constitution Center, Philadelphia; Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art; Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, Seoul; 2007 Sundance Film Festival; the Sydney Film Festival; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; PROSPECT.2 New Orleans; and the Aspen Institute. DuBois’ work and writing has appeared in print and online in the New York Times, National Geographic, and Esquire Magazine, and he was an invited speaker at the 2016 TED Conference. A major survey of his work, NOW, received its premiere at the Ringling Museum of Art in 2014, with a catalogue published by Scala Art & Heritage Publishers.


An active visual and musical collaborator, DuBois is the co-author of Jitter, a software suite for the real-time manipulation of matrix data developed by San Francisco-based software company Cycling’74. He appears on nearly twenty-five albums both individually and as part of the avant-garde electronic group The Freight Elevator Quartet. He currently performs as part of Bioluminescence, a duo with vocalist Lesley Flanigan that explores the modality of the human voice, and in Fair Use, a trio with Zach Layton and Matthew Ostrowski, that looks at our accelerating culture through elecronic performance and remixing of cinema.


DuBois has lived for the last twenty-two years in New York City. He is the director of the Brooklyn Experimental Media Center at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and is on the Board of Directors of the ISSUE Project Room. His records are available on Caipirinha/Sire, Liquid Sky, C74, and Cantaloupe Music. His artwork is represented by bitforms gallery in New York City.


This event is sponsored by the Berkeley Center for New Media and the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation.