Tweaking Tweets

According to a fan-crafted info video, micro-blogging service Twitter allows users to stay in touch "between blog posts and emails" (and, one assumes, texting, phone calls, instant messaging, and actually seeing each other). The product's success appears to divide technophiles into two parties: folks who see it as one of the coolest web 2.0 innovations, and those who think it's merely superfluous and clingy. Experimentation with Twitter follows this pattern. On one hand are the inevitable mash-ups, capitalizing the data-harvesting capabilities of the rich social medium, some offering clever takes on Twitter visualization. For example, Twitter's own Twitter Blocks transforms a user's network into a maplike grid of 3D boxes. Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs's twistori seeks out real-time twitter posts (aka "tweets") that employ the language of basic drives and desires--love, hate, think, believe, feel, wish. The site then streams a color-coded procession that reveals how the Twitter crowd maintain emotional bonds via brief mundanities. In the more critical camp are attempts to use Twitter as a textual broadcasting channel. Past real-time projects The Good Captain and Bloomsday on Twitter shoehorned the content of old print (Herman Melville's Benito Cereno and a passage from James Joyce's Ulysses, respectively) into Twitter's haiku-like format of 140 characters or less per line, commenting on the social spaces created by Twitter via cross-media disjunction. In keeping with the post-conceptual, historically-aware irony that has become a marker of contemporary internet art, Twitter user jennyholzer has been reissuing statements from the 80s art-star for almost a year--will user lawrenceweiner likewise emerge? Guthrie Lonergan takes the impulse a notch more meta by describing VVORK blog updates in telegraph-style tweets. There's a larger resonance to the fact that so many of this constant flow of artworks can be conveyed in just a few words; Lonergan's re-vvorking parodies both the technological and artistic moment for a shared investment in instantly readable messages. - Ed Halter

Image Credit: Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs, twistori (screengrab), 2008