September 1, 2017

Tahir Hemphill
Mapper’s Delight

California College of the Arts (CCA)

Tahir Hemphill, Jay-Z, 2015. Photographic print. 30 x 36 inches. Courtesy of the artist. 

California College of the Arts (CCA) will present Tahir Hemphill: Mapper’s Delight September 5 through October 21, 2017 at the CCA Hubbell Street Galleries in San Francisco.

This marks the first solo exhibition for the New York-based artist and creative technologist.

The exhibition will feature Hemphill’s photographic prints based on data mined from rap lyrics alongside new sculptural and 3D printed work, and is accompanied by a series of community data workshops.

Inspired by Pablo Picasso’s light pen drawings, Hemphill’s Maximum Distance. Minimum Displacement. series investigates the role systems play in the generation of form and specifically how the data drawn from a natural language analysis of hip- hop reveal a layer of aesthetics that are music related yet non-musical. Geographic mentions from the complete bodies of work of 12 rappers—including Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar—were extracted using Hemphill’s Hip-hop Word Count database to create sculptural forms that represent the distance travelled by the lyrics in each song.

As part of the exhibition, the artist will run a series of Rap Research Lab events in CCA’s galleries. The youth media arts program instructs teachers and students in art, design, data analysis, and data visualization using a project-based curriculum that visualizes hip-hop. CCA Exhibitions Director Jaime Austin commented, "Tahir has a long history of teaching community data workshops that create critical discourse around issues of social justice, race, class, and identity. We are excited to be hosting his first solo exhibition at the CCA Hubbell Street Galleries, which investigates the relationships between hip-hop data and society through a critical engagement with the production and interpretation of hip-hop lyrics."

Mapper’s Delight / Maximum Distance. Minimum Displacement. is a project of Creative Capital and is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Tahir Hemphill
Tahir Hemphill is an award-winning multimedia artist and educator whose work sits in the hybrid area between art, technology, social engagement, and interdisciplinary research. He is the designer of the Hip-Hop Word Count database and the founder of the Rap Research Lab, a studio for the production of creative technology projects and for the instruction of digital humanities, media criticism, and data visualization.

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