I Want You To Want Me

“The interactive installation “I Want You To Want Me”, by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, for their “Design and the Elastic Mind” exhibition.

I Want You To Want Me explores the search for love and self in the world of online dating. It chronicles the world’s long-term relationship with romance, across all ages, genders, and sexualities, using real data collected from Internet dating sites every few hours.

The piece is presented on a 56″ high-resolution touch-screen, hanging vertically on the wall, and was installed at MoMA on February 14, 2008, Valentine’s Day.”

– Youtube description

This installation is an example of data visualization, which requires a combination of skills in art/design as well as programming. Data has to be parsed, extracted or processed first before converting it into some pictorial form. This process can be done in real-time, such as extracting live data from twitter feeds in an art installation. In this case, live data is extracted every few hours from internet dating sites.

The choice of using balloons and the use of colours and layout are in my own opinion, effective visual storytelling techniques. Blue balloons represent men, pink balloons women. The darker the colour, the older the person. Balloons are symbols of happiness, celebration and ephemerality, and of birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. Balloons are fun and whimsical, which is a little like dating, when humour and light-heartedness are a prelude to seriousness and commitment in the later stages of the relationship. The use of silhouetted profiles of people engaged in everyday activities in the balloons represent the ordinary individual looking for love.

The documented video has a clear narrative visual that matches the pace and rhythm of the music. The work is richly layered with various movements, such as “Matchmaker”, “Snippets” and “Breakdowns”, that explore various aspects of the dating profile data. There are about 20,000 lines of code. Such is the brilliance and quality of a work commissioned by MOMA.

According to the data collected, the number one turn-on is ‘intelligence’, followed by ‘confidence’ and ‘smile’, and lastly, ‘kissing’, ‘good body’ and ‘sense of humour’. Something to ponder on for this particular day. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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