Twitter Education

Milan based Mousse Magazine is running a series with the title ‘Ten Fundamental Questions of Curating‘, edited by Jens Hoffman. I was invited by Maria Lind to contribute to the fourth installment of the project, which addresses the question “Why Mediate Art?” (Mousse Magazine no.28, 2011). In her text Maria Lind examines the seeming paradoxes that revolve around art institutions: an overabundance of traditional educational activities, aimed at engaging an ever broader public; marketing departments and press offices that take on a strategic role; curators who have no real interest in making their project known outside the professional sphere. She explains the importance of weaving connections between works, curatorial projects and the public, for a new kind of artistic “mediation”. I invited Fabian Neuhaus to collaborate in my contribution, which extends the meaning of mediation in our networked culture by connecting the ‘followers’ of major contemporary art museum and public galleries and Maria Lind’s text through twitter.

This is the time when art is mediated to its audience not only through lectures, seminars, artists’ talks, guided tours and publications but when mediation intervenes as a pulsating stream of immediacy, mixing the promotional intentions of the institution with the visitors’ desires of sharing their observations and responses. The banal is closely entangled with the political, the randomness is attached to a system as announced by the ubiquitous banner: Twitter is a rich source of instantly updated information. It’s easy to stay updated on an incredibly wide variety of topics. By utilising the social networking platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter that emerged over the past few years, the communication between the art institutions and their audiences has grown into a real time stream of information snippets.

What appears on the visuals are graphs mapping tweets sent by three major art institutions, Tate in London, MOMA in New York and Moderna Museet in Stockholm to communicate and mediate their activities as they are enmeshed together with Maria Lind’s text. The two text streams have been aggregated as a word chain, where each word is connected with a link to the following word in the sentence. Each word is represented only once as a node in the chain, but in many cases with multiple connections, edges, to the following words. The resulting visualisation is of a network based on the structure of the words in use. The two different sources are distinguished where red lines represent the links between the words in the tweets sent by the art institutions, while the black lines show the flow of the essay written by Maria Lind. The tweets cover the period between 2009-09-16,15:18 and 2010-11-29 16:03.

The mapping of this flow expresses a desire and interest in distributive networks without restriction; it is the desire of being in touch and engaged, of organising one’s thoughts and sharing them instantly. The knowledge ecologies of a wider world intersect in unexpected ways and point to the role mediation plays in shaping our current social and political life.