Jonathan Harris Hunts Whales


You may know Jonathan Harris best for his project We Feel Fine which, since 2005, has been “harvesting” human emotion on the internet. For his latest project, information designer and artist is harvesting something else: Bowhead whales. No, seriously. We’ll let him explain The Whale Hunt:

Last May I spent ten days with a family of Inupiat Eskimos in Barrow, Alaska, during their annual spring whale hunt. I documented the entire experience with a plodding sequence of 3,214 photographs, beginning with the taxi ride to Newark airport, and ending with the butchering of the second whale, seven days later. The photographs were taken at five-minute intervals, even while sleeping (using a chronometer), establishing a constant “photographic heartbeat.” In moments of high adrenaline, this photographic heartbeat would quicken (to a maximum rate of 37 pictures in five minutes while the first whale was being cut up), mimicking the changing pace of my own heartbeat.

Although it’s a web-based project, the team at Good has done a nice job translating it to print for their latest issue (although you’ll have to trust us on that one or pick up a copy yourself). You can read and see more about Harris’ many, many projects in this Metropolis article by Andrew Blum, and look for more new work on the horizon: Harris is creating an installation for the new MoMA show Design and the Elastic Mind, which will open in February.