’s Hairy Gene

Cleveland. (Courtesy Patrick McMullan)

“Is this artwork hairy?” asks Carter Cleveland, the 25-year old founder of, in today’s episode of The Sweet Spot at The New York Times site. “Is it shiny?” In the video, in which Melena Ryzik and David Carr discuss the new genome project, Mr. Cleveland gets some screen time to shed light on what is and how it works. So, what does hair have to do with it?

In case you haven’t heard, is for visual art what Pandora is for music, giving suggestions on art you may like based on art you already like. (A disclosure: Observer Media board member Josh Kushner is an investor.) And while “depicted content” is one way that the site distinguishes between artworks (Cubist v. Abstract Expressionist), according to Mr. Cleveland, “physical qualities” are another (hairy v. shiny).

“The hairy gene,” he said referring to the machine code that helps differentiate between qualities, “initiated the re-genoming of a lot of the works.”

So what gene will help bring up a work by Tino Sehgal?’s Hairy Gene