Reactor

Twittering Machine 2.0

by Ben Valentine on June 22, 2012

Re-TwitteringMachine.com, Angelo Plessas, 2012

Screen shot from, Re-TwitteringMachine.com (2012) by Angelo Plessas

Angelo Plessas is a net artist whose works predominately deal with color, interactivity and sound. “Re-Twittering Machine” (2012) caught my attention because of the ever growing hype around social media’s role in social unrest like the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement. The interactive drawing, reminiscent of the “Twittering Machine,” by Paul Klee (see image below) reposts tweets from Twitter which incorporate the word ‘Freedom.’ I got Plessas to talk with me a little about this new and poignant piece, which he describes as a:

Software Bot which lives on the screen and is programmed to collect tweets with the word ‘freedom’ in real time. My Bot could be an Arab, he could be a Greek or he could be a Polynesian. He could be a revolutionary in Tahrir Square or on Wall Street, or a teenage girl who complains that her parents wont allow her to change her hair color

Although I am ever hopeful that the speed and ease of which the internet allows information to be shared and spread, I am remain skeptical. What do these freedom tweets amount to? What changes do we honestly hope to bring about through 140-character messages into cyberspace? Plessas is much more convinced, writing “I think the social media phenomenon is one the greatest periods of the information age and maybe the greatest period democracy has ever seen. Networks are the shelters of freedom, and these tools are diminishing isolation.”

Twittering Machine, Paul Klee, 1922, image from SFMOMA Tumblr

Paul Klee, “Twittering Machine” (1922) (via Wikipedia)

The direct reference to “Twittering Machine” is completely appropriate for the work. The piece conjures up odd, mechanical noises that Plessas’s work uses, and although appearing at first glance light hearted, has a darker side. The machine is perilously above a hole, and looks as though it could fall to pieces at any moment. When asked why Plessas chose to referenced Klee’s famous piece, obvious word play aside, he said the piece is “a work that represents the emotionalization [sic] of machines,” and has “organic and technological preoccupations, which are an ongoing investigation in my own work.”

Plessas has a show called Temple of Truth at Rebecca Camhi Gallery in Athens, Greece, on view until September 22, and it is currently preparing for the Eternal Internet Brotherhood, a project he is curating. “The theme will explore ideas of deeper spiritual virtuality and at the same time it aspires to explore new visual codes and behavorial modes,” he says. “I hope it will be an escape from the visual provincialism of technology within which we now partially live our everyday lives.”

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