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Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 4 years ago

Crunch the numbers: R. Luke Dubois turns data into art

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by: Nick Friedman Managing Editor of Arts and Culture

There are many means by which we can attempt to analyze our culture. The United States Census Bureau, for example, attempts to gather meaningful data about residents every 10 years, in order to paint a representative picture of our cultural landscape.

But do these and other efforts really portray the country in which we live? That's one of the questions New York-based artist R. Luke Dubois asks in his latest exhibition, "Now," opening at The Ringling Friday, Jan. 31.

Dubois' genre-defying work — the product of 10 years of data gathering and manipulation — seeks to analyze our culture across multiple platforms, including film, both original and cinematic, music, pop culture and politics.

Examples of Dubois data-driven exploration of American culture include visual representations of the most commonly-used words on dating websites, arranged by state; videos of the surprisingly abundant similarities between two speeches given by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney; 50 years of Playboy centerfolds layered on top of one another in a 50-second video; and other visual and audio mash ups.

Crunching raw data in order to draw meaningful conclusions isn't a new concept, but presenting processed, algorithm-driven data as an interactive form of art is impressive, if not overwhelming. One could spend several hours taking in the many components of "Now" — the first solo exhibition hosted by The Ringling — and for good reason; his work has been both nationally and internationally lauded by critics.

While difficult to articulate, the exhibition offers an insightful, alternate point of view and says about our culture what other methods have yet to be able to.

featured image (a still from one of the video pieces) courtesy of R. Luke Dubois and Bitforms Gallery, New York.

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