EROFT: Final – #EchoChamber

For my final, I decided to continue iterating on what I did with Meditation 4, the performative twitter #EchoChamber.

I originally created a slide show where I handpicked current trends in the media on twitter, whcih a few days ago (in NYC) included #SeanSpicer, #United, and #Syria. However, I thought it would be more interesting if the performance was linked in real-time to whatever the top trending hashtags were. So, I wrote a script using tweepy to scrape the top 10 twitter trends for NYC and had the program randomly select one to print to the console.

For performance purposes, I wanted to show the hashtags nice and large on a projection. So, I bundled the code into a Flask web app.

Here’s the github repo: https://github.com/zoebachman/echo_chamber

For the actual experimental performance, I asked some friends to assist me. We gathered in Room 50, where the chairs were already set up lecture style and I explained the process:

1. Find a partner, make sure you have their phone number
2. Call the partner and put both of your phones on speaker mode, with the volume turned all the way up.
3. Sit close to one another.
4. When the screen changes, say the first word or phrase that comes to mind and keep repeating that phrase, or alter it as you see fit until the screen changes
5. Repeat until performance ends.

I documented the performance, which can be seen here. As someone who doesn’t frequently document audio performances, I certainly learned a lot. Mostly that the sound quality on the Mark II sucks. I would definitely find someone to do documentation for me, since trying to do both wasn’t very effective.

As far as the live performance, I was very happy with how it went and everyone who participated said they really enjoyed the experience and had a lot of fun. I ended up sitting in front of everyone so I could control my laptop, but it also enabled me to observe the group’s reactions and subtle shifts in energy as the performance went on. They seemed eager to see what would come next and how rapidly their subconscious would respond. They were eager for certain hashtags to repeat, because they already had a chant ready. Seeing the effect that a person had on others was interesting, as some would change what they were saying after hearing a different response from their neighbor.

If I were to do it again, I might go back to curating trending topics (though I think this would also speak to my own bias). The responses to certain topics really showed how recognition reflects an individual’s background and more general trends across the ITP community in terms of interests or knowledge. Also, sports? I didn’t realize how much people use Twitter to talk about sports. Then again, I don’t really use Twitter a whole lot. Another change I thought about making was that one person would start each response, with others repeating that one phrase. I also think the addition of audio equipment, mics and speakers – or a more intimate space – would also make an acoustic difference.

Thanks to Allison, Paula C., Wipawe S., Aaron M., Corbin O., Dana A., JJ E., Jordan F., and Annie G., for helping me realize this wacky performance idea.

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19. April 2017 by zoe.bachman.itp
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