Twitter Heart is an electronic sculpture that moves based on a live Twitter search. The sculpture is connected to the internet where it is searching Twitter for the word “heart”. If the search finds current tweets containing the word heart, the sculpture moves. The movement is similar to the pulsing motion of valves inside of a beating heart. If, however, the search comes up empty because no one is tweeting the word heart, the sculpture stops moving. A monitor attached to the sculpture displays incoming/live tweets containing the word heart.
The heart is a vital organ, and recently social networks have evolved into the vital framework of our daily lives. When our heart stops beating we die, when our social networking ceases we tend to feel a sense of loss, confusion, and displacement. I experienced the the latter, when, on October 19th, 2010, I retreated from a life expressed via constant streams of micro-blogging, liking, tweeting, commenting, and tagging. My attempt to live without digital networking was stunted by feelings of displacement, withdrawal, and seclusion. Within six short months I returned to the online social scene. My social media sabbatical revealed that I do not maintain “online” or “offline” experiences that can be compartmentalized; rather my online interactions provide the framework for my offline life, that which is now dependent on social networking.
Twitter Heart draws on the relationship between our digital media dependency and the success of our offline (biological) lives. The sculpture anthropomorphizes social networks by representing Twitter activity in a form similar to something distinctly biological, a heart.