Insights from artist/storyteller/computer scientist Jonathan Harris's recent talk at the Pratt Institute.

Yesterday artist/storyteller/computer scientist Jonathan Harris spoke to a group at Pratt Institute as part of their Digital Arts Lecture Series. Harris makes projects that re-imagine how humans relate to technology and to each other; his projects combine elements of computer science, anthropology, visual art, and storytelling.

Below are some insights we've captured from his account of projects like WORDCOUNT, We Feel Fine, and I Want You To Want Me.

Storytelling – Harris points to filmmaker Werner Herzog's idea of the difference between two different kinds of describing reality – the “accountant's truth” and the “ecstatic truth.” Harris identifies the type of data that we collect about ourselves through technology and purely mechanical, computerized means is indeed a sort of reality, but is really just an “accountant's reality” of numbers, distinctly different from the deeply meaningful, ecstatic reality behind the stories that make up our lives. He emphasizes the importance of finding that “ecstatic truth” in the information that we collect about the world – meaningful things that get at the human condition and ultimately lead to happiness.

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