Tweet Bubble Series

We finished the tweet bubble series for Aram Bartholl residency at V2_. The residency results have been presented during V2_ TestLab: Fashoinable Technology. Below the original post from V2_lab blog:

The Tweet Bubble Series consists of four wearable speech bubble prototypes developed in collaboration between artist Aram Bartholl and V2_Lab.

TweetAll four prototypes reflect on the micro blogging service ‘Twitter’; a relatively new Web2.0 platform that fills up the gap between blogging, instant messaging, and SMS. All messages posted on Twitter are public by default and stored as single HTML pages. Due to Twitter’s growing success, the platform is about to become a standard communication tool. The way in which Twitter is used to communicate within a social network is largely shaped by the absence of physical proximity between users and the relative anonymous social exchange that the platform allows. To deeper investigate into the role of this absence of physical proximity and relative anonymous exchange in the use of Twitter, the central question to the wearable speech bubble prototypes is: What would it be like to not only show your latest message online, but to also publicly display it on your T-shirt?

Pocket Tweets – A Cell phone display enabled Twitter shirt for everyday use.
Pocket Tweets makes use of existing technology by activating the mobile phone every user brings along anyway. A small Java application is offered for download to be installed on an internet activated cell phone. After the user inserts his/her Twitter screen name the application receives the latest tweet and displays the message in a white speech bubble on black background. The idea is then to wear the phone in a custom designed pocket on a shirt, jacket or bag. A speech bubble shaped cut out in the cloth shows the displayed message to the public in a subtle way. The ubiquitous mobile phone turns an everyday life shirt into wearable technology. The private screen of the mobile phone points to the public.

Loud Tweets – A LED name badge hacked into a personal Twitter feed scroll ad.
Loud Tweets instead introduces its own technology. LED name badges are a new, low cost product series made in China which refer to the classic LED bar display. Scrolling text on red LED bars represents a very typical and specific culture of advertisement. It attracts a lot of attention and they are used in any kind of public space: from shopping to public transport.

The small 21×7 pixel, red LED name badge can be programmed by three buttons to display 255 characters as a scrolling message. Through a GSM connected Arduino board the display receives the latest Twitter message of the user. Loud Tweets is a custom made standalone device of fairly low cost and hacked components. The attention culture of Twitter and the cheapness of LED combine into a personal micro adverstisement sign for public space.

Paper Tweets – Twitter messages printed on stickers for event crowds.
In contrary to Pocket Tweets and Loud Tweets which are designed to experiment in everyday life public space Sticky Tweets does work as a conference intervention ideal for big web related events. Conference visitors are invited to wear speech bubble stickers with their own latest Twitter message on their clothing to engage real life / virtual identity – cross communication. First participants have to register at the Sticky Tweets desk with their Twitter screen name. In return they receive a blank speech bubble including a RFID tag. The user gets regularly updates of his/her own twitter messages throughout the whole conference area. A mobile team equipped with RFID scanners and label writer prints the individual current message of each registered user in real time on the spot. The relation between digital and printed feed combined with the chase for the actual message leads to an absurd play of interaction. The ephemeral nature of Twitter posts is subverted by paper based communication.

Classic Tweets – Standard claims sewn into thermo chromatic enabled T-shirts.
Classic Tweets incorporates a novel technology to use a T-shirt as a display: A conductive wire is sewn into a thermo-chromatic T-shirt. When the conductive wire is heated up by electricity, then the shirt’s thermochromatic ink turns white around the wire. The three most typical Twitter messages are sewn into the Classic Tweets T-shirt and can be separately ‘lit up’ by the user. This allows a user to individually twitter these three messages, depending on the activity s/he engages in.
“Having coffee.” or “Looking at …” (a specific website) represents a large amount of daily posted tweets. The presence and the need to share the moment are the momentum of the service. The repetitive character of every day life is condensed into the Classic Tweets T-shirt.

The Tweet Bubble Series has been developed as part of the ‘Wearable Technology’ artist-in-residence program at V2_ Lab in Rotterdam during the spring of 2009.

V2_Lab project team: Piem Wirtz and Simon de Bakker

Artist: Aram Bartholl

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