Brain Pickings

Exactitudes: Cultural Photo-Anthropological Data Viz


Why you aren’t nearly as unique as you think, or what 12 Japanese school children have to do with 12 homeless people in Rotterdam.

Since 1994, photographer Ari Versluis and profiler Ellie Uyttenbroek have been trekking the globe together, recording Exactitudes — “exact attitudes” captured in people’s peculiar dress code as an attempt to differentiate themselves from others or identify with a group.

Each “exactitude” consists of twelve distinct portraits structured in a grid. Think of it as street fashion meets cultural anthropology meets data visualization — a visceral exploration of subcultures, group identity and individualism.

French Touch - Bordeaux 2006

Pin-ups - London 2008

Backpackers - Rotterdam 2008

The series is also an ethnographic and temporal portrait of our collectively individual identity across time and space — the big bags of 2008, New York’s yupster girls, the tracksuits of Japanese schoolkids, the soccer jersey fetish of European teenage boys, even “street style” at its rawest in the face of the homeless.

Gabberbitches - Rotterdam 1996

Miss Shapes - London 2008

We see the Rotterdam-based duo’s work as a collage of contradictions — between individuality and uniformity, between street style and studio setting, between self and group — that make you question our cultural givens and our self-conception as unique personas.

For a condensed version of the 15-year-long project, check out the hardcover book, which features a selection of 60 hand-curated exactitudes. Or, save yourself $261.20 and explore Exactitudes online for a fascinating glimpse into the cultural crowd of selves.

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