A More Perfect Union
“You better find somebody to love.” - Darby Slick
Every ten years in the United States we take a census, the purpose of which is to determine how many people live in different areas of our country, so that the makeup of the House of Representatives reflects the makeup of the nation. Along with a simple count of heads, the census asks other questions which give us insight into our income, jobs, homes, ages, and backgrounds. This information is analyzed and published by the government, telling us who we are.
But these facts and figures, interesting and useful as they may be, are not really us.
What if, instead of seeing our country though the lens of income, we knew where people said they were shy?
What if, instead of looking at whether we own or rent our homes, we looked at what people do on a Saturday night?
What if, instead of tallying ancestry or the type of industry in which we work, we found out what kind of person we want to love?
According to a Pew Research Survey Report issued in 2006, 31% of American adults know someone who has used online dating services to find a partner. That number has surely increased in the four years since. There are literally dozens of online dating sites, catering to different ethnic groups, gender and sexual identities, age ranges, and social classes.
To join a dating site you have to, quite literally, “put yourself out there”, describing yourself for the express purpose of being liked. This seemingly simple act is quite complex. You have to provide, in addition to some basic statistics, two pieces of prose: you have to say who you are, and you have to say who you want to be with. In the second piece of writing, you have to tell the truth. In the first, you have to lie.
I joined twenty-one dating sites in order to make my own census of the United States in 2010. These are my findings: a road atlas of the United States, with the names of cities, towns, and neighborhoods replaced with the words people use to describe themselves and those they want to be with.
These maps contain 20,262 unique words, based on the analysis of online dating profiles from 19,095,414 single Americans.
Each word appears in the place it’s used more frequently than anywhere else in the country.
R. Luke DuBois
New York City
Singles data taken from:
Geographical data taken from:
The United States Census Bureau
The United States Postal Service
Produced by Steven Sacks for bitforms gallery
Printing by Supreme Digital
, Brooklyn, NY.
Additional Software Development: Adam Parrish
Additional Layout: Lesley Flanigan
Software developed using Max/MSP/Jitter, Cycling’74
, San Francisco, CA.
Thanks: Laura Blereau, Emily Bates, Lucy Ross, Tom Weinrich, Toni Dove, Kathleen Forde, Dana Karwas, Joshua Kit Clayton, and Susan Gladstone.
For my clients. With affection.
©2008-2011 R. Luke DuBois
. All rights reserved.
Artwork represented by bitforms gallery