Ceci n’est pas une tweet?




Ceci N’est Pas une Tweet was a collaborative art project at ICT&Art Connect 2013 in Brussels, Belgium. What follows is an excerpt from Beth Coleman’s essay Let’s Get Lost: Poetic City Meets Data City in Civic Media: Technology, Design, Practice, edited by Eric Gordon and Paul Mihailidis:


The second example I discuss of generative design an affective (psychographic) mapping is a project developed with my research group, City as Platform (PI Coleman, collaborating artist Howard Goldkrand, and graduate researchers Adam Bradley and Anne Hammoud). Ceci n’est pas une tweet, a situated installation that connected networked social media to a geographic context, was developed in consortium with an ICT&Art Connect workshop supported by the European Union Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, in November 2013 (Coleman 2013). In this project, we use networked social media (Tweets, Tumblrs, and so on) to create a geotagged map of Brussels. The procedure was to capture the location of each media utterance and to map it in relation to where geographically it had been posted. Following that process, we then went into the streets of Brussels and wrote the networked message by hand in the location that best approximated the coordinates from which the message had been posted. In other words, we put in public places, such as walls, a post from the neighbourhood in which it originated.

The goal of the piece was to experiment with evocative, poetic uses of social media data…The project evokes the Magritte painting (This Is Not a Pipe) for two reasons. Brussels, the city we were psychographically mapping, was the birthplace of the painter. But more importantly, the provocation we offered was that these messages were actually no longer “tweets” or “check-ins” or “likes” or other shorthand of social media vernacular. They were signs of a public conversation locally as well as across a network. The simple act of relocating what people had said on the Internet to the streets was an opportunity to move outside of both the habit of social media and neighbourhood, if only for a moment.

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