You can email me at
Before doing so, please read the FAQs below.
Periodic updates on new work:
I receive a lot of email, and when I'm feeling particularly barraged and beleaguered, I sometimes consider adopting Donald Knuth's infamous policy. To help preserve my sanity and prevent this from happening, please read the following frequently asked questions before emailing me. Thanks.
- Why 27?
It's an important number in my mother's family, showing up in all sorts of auspicious and ominous situations. Also, I was born on August 27, 1979. Twenty-seven also has some nice mathematical properties.
- Can I hire you to design a website for my company?
No, I don't do that sort of thing anymore.
- Can my company or organization commission you to make a new work?
Possibly. The project would have to be a natural fit with the themes and ideas I already explore in my own work. This sometimes works out beautifully. Some recent examples of successful collaborations are I Want You To Want Me (with MoMA), Sputnik Observatory (with Sputnik), Universe (with Daylife), and Time Capsule (with Yahoo!).
- Is your work for sale?
Installation versions of certain pieces are available in small editions. Please email for more information.
- How can a website be art?
By its very nature, my online work is designed to be experienced by as many people as possible. This runs against the traditional art world model, which is premised on the scarcity of precious objects. The idea of "acquiring" a website is still foreign to most museums and collectors. Some curators are beginning to consider how a museum might acquire a work that continues to exist in the public domain. For instance, MoMA's Paola Antonelli is interested in having her museum acquire a Boeing 747, and having it continue to operate commercial flights with a small MoMA plaque attached to the plane. Similarly, the Dia Foundation supports environmental artists like Michael Heizer, Donald Judd, and Robert Smithson who install their work in natural settings, for anyone to see. Meanwhile artists like Banksy present their art in the street, among road signs and billboards. I prefer to keep focused on making my work, and not to worry too much about the semantics of what can and cannot be considered art. Sooner or later, with the help of curators like Paola and working artists who continue to insist on the web as a medium, the art world will catch up.
- How do you pay the bills?
Through a combination of commissioned work, grants, and lectures.
- Can you come speak to my organization?
I do sometimes accept speaking engagements. I've given keynote lectures at dozens of companies, universities, festivals and conferences. Please email to inquire about this.
- Do you blog, use Twitter, or use Facebook?
No, but I do post a daily photo. I'm old-fashioned.
- What kind of camera do you use for your daily photos?
I use a Canon 5D, which is now a few years old.
- But the colors in those photos look so supernatural...
I try to make the photos feel less like my life and more like my memory.
- What tools do you use to make your projects?
It depends on the project. Generally, I try to use the most basic language that I feel can get the job done elegantly. For backend (data collection and analysis) work, I use Java, PHP, and Perl, with MySQL for databases. For frontend (visual) work, I use Processing (We Feel Fine, Universe), Open Frameworks (I Want You To Want Me), Adobe Flash (Sputnik Observatory, The Whale Hunt, 10x10, Wordcount), and good ol' HTML (justcurio.us, Threatmeter). If you're interested in getting started with this kind of work, a great place to start is to check out the Processing community. Processing is basically a simple way to get started with Java (slower than C++, but works on the web), while Open Frameworks is basically a simple way to get started with C++ (faster than Java, but doesn't work on the web).
- Can I download a copy of the Wordcount word list?
Sure, you can grab it here. The first column is the word itself, the second column is the word's occurence rate (as a percentage of all words), and the third column is its rank in the list. Enjoy!
- Can I download the source code for your projects?
Generally, I don't release the source code for my projects, though I frequently make APIs available (see next question).
- Are there APIs for your projects?
For certain projects, there are APIs available. For instance, check out the documentation for We Feel Fine, 10x10, and the aforementioned word list used by Wordcount.
- I'm an academic researcher — can I get a copy of all your data?
If you're interested in doing advanced academic work using the full data set from one of my projects, like We Feel Fine or I Want You To Want Me, please send an email to and describe what you're interested in doing.
- I'm an art / design student — can I interview you for a class paper?
In order to keep focused on making new work, unfortunately I don't have time to respond to specific questions for college papers. Please have a look at some of the interviews I've done in the past (full list is here), and hopefully they will answer your questions. Sorry about that, and good luck.
- I'm a bride-to-be and I need a wedding photographer — help!
You should hire my sister — she's great! ;)
- The intersection of storytelling and computer science is unusual — how did you arrive at it?
I have always been interested in storytelling, which I see as the soul of human life. As a kid, this meant writing my own comic books. As a teenager this meant keeping sketchbooks. In college, this meant starting a magazine of personal travel stories. After studying computer science, this meant finding a way to use the web to re-imagine what storytelling can be. At each step, I try to use whatever tools are available to me. When the tools change, I change.
- I'm interested in Fabrica—can you give me some advice / insights about it?
Fabrica is like no other place on earth—some people love it, others hate it. I had a tremendously positive experience there, and generally recommend it strongly. I couldn't imagine a better way to spend a year at that age, and the people you meet will stay with you for the rest of your life. In terms of your application, Fabrica favors projects with a strong conceptual core. Execution is important too, but make sure the underlying concept is strong. If you receive a trial, I'd suggest having one or two projects in mind that you could complete in two weeks, so you can hit the ground running. Fabrica definitely favors the self-initiated. For more on this, have a look at this interview I did for the Fabrica blog a few years ago.
- Do you offer any jobs / internships?
Not at the moment. I am a strong believer in doing one's own work, so I prefer to work alone when possible.
- I'm just getting started — can you offer any advice?
A wise mentor once told me: "When you're younger, think less and do more; when you're older, do less and think more." I see a lot of (especially young) people get frozen by the paralysis of indecision. Just start making stuff until something catches. Once you've tried a number of things, it will be easier to see which ones have a future. Another bit of encouraging advice I like very much is what Ira Glass has to say about taste. Here are a few other insights that may be useful as well.
- Who are some of your main influences?
Andrei Tarkovsky, Werner Herzog, Frank Lloyd Wright, Donald Judd, Michael Heizer, Joseph Campbell, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Hayao Miyazaki, Godfrey Reggio, Ervin László, Tibor Kalman, and Charles & Ray Eames.
- You need a haircut!
You sound like my mother!