Maximum Distance. Minimum Displacement.

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Inspired by Pablo Picasso’s light drawings, Maximum Distance. Minimum Displacement. uses abstracted semantic rap data to create sculptural forms with light. The forms represent the distance traveled by the lyrics in each song.

Maximum Distance. Minimum Displacement. is an extension of media artist Tahir Hemphill’s Hip Hop Word Count – a searchable database of lyrics from more than 50,000 rap songs. Hemphill used the Hip Hop Word Count’s new semantic analysis results to extract all geographic mentions from the complete bodies of work of 12 rappers. These locations were translated into geo coordinates which were then made into points that plotted the movements of a robotic arm. The robot arm drew each path while holding a light pen.

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