Jer Thorp

Jer is a generative software artist and educator from Vancouver, Canada, currently living in New York. A former geneticist, his work explores the boundaries between science, mathematics, and art using custom-written computer programs.

Thorp is currently Data Artist-in-Residence at The New York Times, the first Artist-in-Residence at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) of NYU, and a contributing editor for Wired UK. His award-winning software-based work has been exhibited internationally.

Workshop: Archive, Text, and Character(s)



What is the reading of the text, in fact, except the recording of certain thematic reoccurrences, certain insistences of forms and meanings?

In a novel of fifty to a hundred thousand words... I advise you to observe immediately the words that are repeated about twenty times. Look here...


blood, cartridge belt, commander, do, have, immediately, it, life, seen, sentry, shots, spider, teeth, together, you...

Don't you already have a clear idea what it's about?

-- If on a winter's night a traveler, Calvino


In this 3-hour workshop, we'll see how text can operate as a unique substrate for creative exploration. Using selected corners of the NewYork Times' extensive archive as examples, we'll explore techniques to parse, analyze, and visualize huge bodies of text. Attendees will learn how simple (and even some not-so-simple) statistical methods can be combined with exploratory visualization strategies to find patterns of language within and between separate texts. More than that, participants will learn how computational methods can reveal the unique character of text.

Attendees will need their own laptop, with Processing 2.0 and Python installed.  Participants will receive small thought-provoking assignments, along with instructions for preparation, in the weeks leading up to the workshop.

Panel: Data Vizualization + Social Justice

Can bar charts change the world? In this panel, we'll examine how data visualization can aid in communication, activism, and criticism around social change. We'll discuss examples of how dataviz has been effective to effect positive change, and will also examine cases where these kinds of strategies have been ineffective (and in some cases, harmful).

Session: Near/Far

In this session, Jer will share a variety of new work that explores the concept and experience of location. He'll show projects that engage with local, personal data, as well as visualizations of systems of astronomical size. He'll discuss the importance of engaging with the character of data sets, and will share a variety of strategies and techniques for working with locational data. Along the way, he'll share all kinds of tips and techniques, and probably tell a fair number of bad jokes.