Josh Harlan. “Lillian 1.4,” 2022. Vibrachrome Metal Print. 48 x 48 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
By Anna Mikaela Ekstrand For Cultbytes November 13, 2023
Statistics and data analytics may seem daunting and therefore difficult to question. The artist Josh Harlan centers his work on manipulating data visualizations by merging formal qualities of their design with minimalism, presenting abstractions of statistical data to his viewers. Thus, pointing to the fact that graphic design is an integral component alongside scientific methods of data gathering and analysis to (mis)understand important parts of our society. His work does not say that data analytics are not important, but rather, that we should not shy away from viewing them, or at least be able to identify flaws they might have in presenting universal truths. He digs deeper into these questions of perception in his new series “Lillian” that is based on U.S. university ranking systems. How can the rankings vary to this degree from year to year? “’Arbitrary data sets,” he explains.
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