Being myself only an occasional twitterer, yet one interested both in art and in social media’s impact on (scholarly) communication, I was utterly fascinated when hearing about Geolocation, a project developed by American photographers and university lecturers Marni Shindelman (University of Georgia) and Nate Larson (Maryland Institute College of Art).
Motivated by their interest in «the cultural understanding of distance as perceived in modern life and networked culture», Larson and Shindelman first searched the daily 340 million tweets for those that were geo-tagged, and then travelled to the sites where the tweets had originated from and took a photo of them «to mark the virtual information in the real world».
More than 250 photos were taken (in the USA, Canada, England) and paired to the original tweets. Larson and Shindelman’s collaborative site presents a selection of Geolocation’s works, further mentioning scholars’ use of such terms as ambient awareness and online oversharing as a likely frame of reference for research (Kaplan & Haenlein’s The early bird catches the news: nine things you should know about micro-blogging, Business Horizons 2011, retrieved via Web of Science, might prove a useful starting point for a literature search on the topic).
My own tiny selection from Larson and Shindelman’s pairs follows below. In two cases I have based my choice on the self-reflective (i.e. twitter-centered) character of the work: being the self-reflection intrinsic to the tweet, such as in the deserted street, or ironically added by the photographers, in the flock’s case. As for the motel’s picture, my very personal motivation for choosing the work has been the poetic quality of the text/photo juxtaposition, whose intimate loneliness both reminded me of Edward Hopper’s silent paintings and of how Phaidon newsletter’s january issue, where I first read about Geolocation, described the project as one highlighting «again how people are prepared to share their innermost thoughts with billions of people – even when they feel they are alone».