Pitchfork, the inveterate hipster music site, recently announced plans for a music festival in New York City named #offline. Social media is great and all, but the sudden popularity of names that begin with the Twitter hashtag-indicating # are starting to be mildly annoying, however niche it is.

Pitchfork’s move brings to mind the antics of Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida’s Winkleman Gallery-hosted #class, the dynamic series of events, lectures, and social media-integrated happenings that critiqued the entrenched art world, just like #twitter critiques #mainstreammedia. The artist duo just announced a sequel to the first event, deemed #rank, to take place at the 2010 Art Basel Miami Beach-adjacent SEVEN fair. No doubt the name will be tweeted often.

The omnipresence of Twitter nowadays has led to an extreme glut of #hashtag consideration. From deciding what hashtag is best for the event being talked about to measuring whether its best to have single or multiple hashtags, it’s just too much. Do we really need hashtag theory? The 2010 Whitney Biennial sparked comment with its blogger-led #whibi, and internet denizens poked fun at Bravo’s Work of Art reality show with the middle-school #workoFart. And what about Art Basel Miami Beach this year? #abmb2010? Writing it out in full would pretty much knock out that 140 character count.

Internet humor is great and all, but as the Trending Topic says, if we could all just chill on the hashtags, #thatwouldbeawesome.

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

6 replies on “Trending: #Hashtag Event Names”

  1. The # is an important signifier in the titles of my performances (starting formally with #Theseus in Jan ’10, then adopted as the template #24h_____). It immediately identifies the “performance” as an event that takes place, at least in part, online (and specifically using Twitter).

    While I can’t control the glut, I’ll continue to use them as long as the signification is relevant.

    Also, small but important distinction: Twitter doesn’t critique mainstream media, Twitter users do.

    1. Point taken about Twitter vs. Twitter users, but what I don’t get about the event names is how they end up fetishizing the “real time” signified of the hashtag and not really contributing any more meaning. Every event now happens in real time online, on Twitter. I don’t really need a #SuperBowl or an #Offline to know that I can experience these events through the internet, my followees, and the Blogs. Given social media’s omnipresence, the signification is already irrelevant.

      1. I suppose the general public understands the signifier, however if I had a dollar for every time I had to explain the symbol to an art world folk… Point is, while it seems ubiquitous to me/us, I’m constantly reminded of how many people still don’t understand, or even know about Twitter. “Why do I care what you ate for breakfast?” is a common slight I STILL field about the platform.

        I do think however there’s a fine line, and #SuperBowl is a great example of unnecessary hashtagging. Ideally, I would love to see the # come to signify the general concept of following/participating in a live event; outside the Twitter ecosystem.

        The reason I developed my naming convention was because it was confusing to people if the hashtag was different than the title of the performance (e.g. 24h Best non-Buy was #bestnonbuy). So it’s as much an issue of practicality as anything. But conceptually I really like the idea that the “group” is included in the title. It’s active in a way that it wasn’t before.

        In any event, the post/comments have me thinking, so, thanks!

        1. I think what meaning is left to the signifier is relatively literal, like #hashtag signifies that if you go on twitter and look for #hashtag, you will find this event. But then that seems like a bad reason to name an entire event after it as a sort of social media-branding move.

          I really like the idea of # coming to represent the idea of following in real time rather than the strict concept of Twitter presence. It’s definitely an evolving form, vocabulary and name.

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