White acrylic ink on mirror, in collaboration with Rodrigo Derteano.
“1986” is a data art object on the topic of cocaine, presenting data from newspaper article headlines during a pivotal year in the history of substance abuse in the USA.
This project is a remix of Rodrigo Derteano’s earlier work, which was created from a search for the appearance of the word “cocaine” in New York Times article titles from 1900 to 2014. In this data set, the year 1986 was the single year that had the most occurrences of the word in article titles, which led me to zoom in on that year and present its data in a focused light. It was arguably the year when popular consciousness of the risks of cocaine abuse became broadly evident, also considered by some to be the year that the crack epidemic began, and frequently cited as a milestone year for the so-called “war on drugs.”
Derteano’s original work had presented the word cocaine and the adjacent word or words. “1986” presents just the adjacent words, using his original visualization as its guide. The word cocaine is absent, as if it has already been ingested. This plays on the double-take effect of this piece–the audience is likely to have already figured out its subject before getting any of the detail. And observation of its tiny, handwritten detail practically requires that you get your face very close to the mirror. The words written on the mirror are:
as a on boat ring eating corruption smuggling crackdown treatment for is found smuggler's tests customers set use is confiscated use are still brought 'factory' may but not charges case charges habit case seized charges problem ring sites tons of is even is even is even ring lab will raids peril draws 'minimal' use killed trade use users ring about much using find seized abuse
These words were handwritten using a dip pen and fine 100 nib, dipped into white pigmented acrylic ink. The mirror is part of a shabbat candle set–I definitely did not take the mirror from Kanye’s house, as some colleagues have insinuated. Inspiration for the piece came of course from Rodrigo Derteano, but also in part from a conversation with the perennially influential Jon Wasserman. “1986,” and Derteano’s original piece, were projects created for the NYU ITP Data Art class led by Jer Thorp.