The DumpsterAbout the Dumpster ProjectUsing the Dumpster InterfaceArtist StatementEssay by Lev ManovichSelections from the Breakup DatabaseCredits and Acknowledgements

Credits and Acknowledgements

The Dumpster project was conceived in conversation between Golan Levin and Kamal Nigam. It was made possible through the unflagging faith and generous curatorial support of Christiane Paul, of the Whitney Museum Artport, and Jemima Rellie of the Tate Online. The artists are additionally grateful to Danah Boyd and Martin Wattenberg for their extensive critical feedback concerning the sociological, ethical and design aspects of the visualization.

Golan Levin developed significant portions of the Dumpster's graphical interface in Processing, a free, open-source sketchpad for computational arts. Golan expresses his gratitude to Ben Fry and Casey Reas for creating this environment, and to Karsten Toxi Schmidt and Zachary Lieberman for additional technical advice and artistic suggestions. The Dumpster pixel fonts were designed by 010Bus and Matthew Carter.

Kamal Nigam performed the data mining, analysis and filtering for the Dumpster project. Kamal and Golan would like to thank Intelliseek and BlogPulse for providing access to their data and other tools. Kamal expresses his thanks to Intelliseek and especially to its Applied Research Center for enabling this work while he was employed there.

The server-side backend for the Dumpster was developed by Jonathan Feinberg. Jonathan and Golan wish to thank Basem Aly, Kalin Mintchev and the IT Staff of the Whitney Museum for their exceptionally responsive, helpful and trusting support.

Andrea Boykowycz developed an efficient database tool for post hoc data cleaning. Many thanks to her, and to Jessica Greenfield, Joel Kraut, and Giana Gambino for their assistance in pruning the dataset.

The artists are sincerely indebted to Lev Manovich for agreeing to offer his words to complement the project, particularly on such short notice.

Additional thanks to Clay Shirky and Peter Hirschberg for their curiosity and moral support.

The creators of the Dumpster dedicate this project to our wives, in the hope that we will not find our names in there this Valentine's day.


Artist Biographies

Golan Levin's work combines equal measures of the whimsical, the provocative, and the sublime in a wide variety of online, installation and performance media. He teaches courses in audiovisual systems and information visualization at Carnegie Mellon University, and is represented by bitforms gallery NYC.

Kamal Nigam has expertise in data mining and machine learning with an emphasis on analyzing text and internet data. Formerly Director of Applied Research at Intelliseek, he has just started a position at the new Google engineering office in Pittsburgh.

Jonathan Feinberg takes pride in executing the invisible-yet-essential. He works in the Collaborative User Experience group at IBM Watson Research Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As a drummer he has worked with such bands as They Might Be Giants, Lisa Loeb, and Church of Betty.


Related Projects

Golan Levin and collaborators have produced two other interactive online information visualizations which may be of related interest:

The Secret Lives of Numbers (2002: Golan Levin, Jonathan Feinberg, Shelly Wynecoop and Martin Wattenberg) is an interactive data visualization and online artwork, commissioned by An exhaustive empirical study was conducted to determine the relative popularity of every integer between zero and one million. The resulting information exhibits an extraordinary variety of patterns which reflect our culture, our minds, and our bodies—forming a numeric snaphot of the collective consciousness.

Axis (2002: Golan Levin) is an online tool, commissioned by the Whitney Artport for its Codedoc Exhibition, which is intended to broaden opportunities for Political Axis creation. It allows its participant to connect any three countries into a new Axis of his or her own design. With the help of multidimensional statistical metrics culled from international public databases, the commonalities amongst the user's choices are revealed.

Several other people have built or proposed Internet projects concerned with romantic breakups. Coincidentally, it turns out that we weren't the only ones to think of this clever title for a project :) collects stories about romantic breakups from willing contributors. They have about 50 breakups narratives as of this writing (February 2006), most of which were collected in 2003.

Dumpster is also the name of an unimplemented idea, suggested by CricketsChirping, and posted on the Half-Bakery web site in 2003. The proposal involves a hypothetical service/tool, similar to eVite, which "helps you end a relationship that's ready to die."

Dumpmonkey is a real service, active at least since 2004, which assists in romantic breakups and which maintains a list of about 50 (anonymized) clients.