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“Much effort is spent making computers understand what it’s like to be human, but rarely do humans try to see things from a computer’s perspective. ”Jonathan Harris, Creator, Whale Hunt
In 2007, web artist Jonathan Harris spent nine days with Inupiat Eskimos in northern Alaska documenting their traditional whale hunt. Over the course of the trip, Harris took 3,214 photographs, about once every five minutes (even automating the process while he slept). The result is a massive photo essay focused on both the Inupiat tradition and Harris’s outsider perspective. To organize this large data-set, Harris arranged a timeline of the slideshow to correspond to a heartbeat graphic. The slideshow speeds up and slows down according to Harris’s heart rate during filming. The heartbeat timeline integrates Harris’s personal experience directly into the storytelling process. It also gestures at the gap between the 2-dimensional images and what they convey: an arduous pull between life, death, and the elements.
The data-set is highly customizable. Audience members can orient the photographs as a mosaic, timeline, or pinwheel. The photos can also be arranged through substantial meta-data, including context (locations), concepts (themes), and cast (people).