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Posted at 03:16 PM ET, 12/06/2012

Your tweets become art tonight at Artisphere’s “W3fi”

Send a tweet with the words “I” or “We” in it and it could become a work of art. In fact, if you send it tonight, it could be projected across the roof of Artisphere.

Opening Thursday at the Rosslyn venue is artists Christopher Coleman and Laleh Mehran’s projected digital installation that examines connectivity and internet privacy, and your tweets may be used to prove their point. “W3fi” will stream tweets and other mobile data from the area to create an ever-changing picture of Washington and its super-connected citizens.


(Courtesy of Christopher Coleman and Laleh Mehran)


“The piece is about the fact that we can no longer keep a distance between our digital and real selves,” said Coleman. “The Internet is no longer a digital utopia.”

Coleman and Mehran, his wife, consider the piece to be a manifesto about digital relationships, with terms outlined on their Web site using leetspeak:

You have no control over what others do to your S3LF.
Other S3LFs can be celebrated and destroyed by you.
We are all part of this now.
All the S3LFs are the W3.

They lament the lack of privacy and control we have over our digital selves, but also appreciate the free flow of information, without which they’d never be able to do this project. Aside from the tweets, much of the data is collected from Skyhook, a location technology company.

All of these data points will be projected onto a skyline silhouette of Rosslyn and Washington, connected by an outline of the District and the Key Bridge. One wall will take pictures of visitors, and add them at random to a growing web of faces. The streaming information will provide a type of portrait of the region, and there will be softly-glowing chairs inviting people to sit and take it all in.

“It’s gently moving, not a frantic piece,” said Mehran. Though the installation could have just as easily been made into a slick-looking website, “It’s critical to us to have a physical experience.”

Pulling in snippets of tweets with “I” and “We” is a way to gauge how people are thinking about themselves, and how they’re relating to others, they said. The images of visitors will be randomly grouped to represent “The randomness of our actions ... the serendipity that happens with digital networks,” said Mehran.

The artists hope that their installation will help people to be as deliberate with their digital personae as they would be IRL. “W3fi” represents the ideal of what the internet can be: “A positive space where we’re all interconnected, helping people live better lives,” said Coleman.

By  |  03:16 PM ET, 12/06/2012

 
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