Data Project: (A Selection From) On Kawara’s Time Series

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Aside from the juvenilia, many of On Kawara’s most famous works are documents of movement and time. For his I Got Up series, Kawara sent two postcards every day between May 10, 1968 and September 17, 1979. Each postcard is stamped with the words “I GOT UP AT” with the time that Kawara got up. In his I Met series, also done during this period, Kawara documented all the people he met. There is a page for each day with a list of each person he encountered. The series I Went, done between June 1, 1968 until September 17, 1979, consists of Kawara tracing with a red line on a photocopy of a map the his daily movements. During the 1970s, Kawara sent telegrams to his friends with the words “I am still alive.” On Kawara, in a canonical history of art, is classified amongst the Conceptualists. If so, he was certainly one of the most meticulous and disciplined. The postcards, telegrams, and lists could be seen as early metadata of a life, one part of the projects of walking, waking, and meeting. Yet he was distinct from his contemporaries in the movement, as Jeffrey Weiss points out, for his devotion to painting.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 For this data project, I would like to focus on his Date Paintings, known collectively as the Today series. It consists of nearly 3,000 works. For the project, Kawara painted according to a strict set of rules. The painting of a given date must be completed by the end of the day or be destroyed. He has eight possible dimensions and three possible colors: red, gray, or blue. There is variety in the colors since they are hand mixed. The date, also the focal point and representative image, is rendered according to the language of the country Kawara was in (he was an avid traveler).

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4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Image of On Kawara's Time series via PhaidonImage of On Kawara’s Time series via Phaidon

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 My fantasy is to derive data from all of Kawara’s documented works and establish an interactive database of all his works. The Today series is, in part, a meditation on the day’s events. The craft and care in their painting are astonishing. At the same time, I am approaching this project under the belief that these paintings can facilitate a generative interaction—even when the actual paintings are left out.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 I have attached a csv I made using this checklist from an exhibit of Kawara’s date paintings that was on display at David Zwirner gallery from January 6 to February 11, 2012. I used Excel and made a column for the title of the painting, the month, year, dimensions, city, language of the text, the country, the date, and the caption. I briefly considered using Photoshop to identify the colors of each painting but there are too many variables and adding a column containing that information.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 On Kawara CSV from Zwirner Checklist

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 In putting together this csv file, I have already faced several complications and inconsistencies. For some entries in the checklist, the city appears to be in the original language while others are listed in English. I may edit this document to display cities in English without accents. Most cities have identifiable countries, however, based on my Google-ing, Karija (on line 63) may be a city in India or Yemen. I do not know what country Simantogava, the location for 10 FEB. 2006. Then there is the issue of what to do about the captions. After a certain point, Kawara stopped using newspaper headlines as a subtitle and began to simply indicate the day of the week when each painting was rendered. I would like to add to my dataset. I know that he kept meticulous calendars with the dates and colors of his paintings and I am still trying to get access to reproductions of them.

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 Moving forward with this dataset, the cleaning of which is proving to be far more complicated and time-consuming that I anticipated, I would like to include latitudes and longitudes for each city. I will definitely be adding a column for a color category (either red, gray, or blue).

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Just to test out my dataset, I have mapped the paintings using CartoDB with years indicated by color .

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12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 I have also used Google to generate histograms of the paintings by language and dimension included below.

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15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Moving forward, I would like to use R to create subsets of my dataset using color and/or particular years. I can also use it to generate maps with weighted data points, which I might size according to the painting dimensions. Using R would also allow me to examine multiple variables in single visualizations so I would like to represent each date with a weighted datapoint in the color the painting background was rendered in. While my dataset is limited, I am excited to see what patterns in the work can be brought forth through visualizations.

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 As I mentioned, part of Kawara’s process involved the construction of a box with a clipping from the day’s newspaper. I don’t know how yet but I would like to somehow incorporate major international events of particular days into this project. It would be great to have headlines from major newspapers for each particular day of my dataset, particularly on the days from the period after Kawara stopped using the headlines as a subtitle. If anybody has suggestions on how I can make this happen, I would love to hear it. Looking forward to your feedback! Thanks!


Source: https://dhpraxisfall16.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2016/11/08/data-project-a-selection-of-on-kawaras-time-series/

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