Twitter Twitter On The Wall

In this project, i created an interactive installation in front of Carnegie Childre's Library using Twit4j library and Process based on US Election based tweets.

Problem Statement

This is an exploratory project based on the LED Light Wall outside the Carnegie Library. These lights were programmable. The ask was to come up with some idea to use the open APIs and use the simple animation sequences meaningfully.


Since the US elections of 2016 were approaching and was one of the most trending topics during that time, I decided to use tweets in an interesting way and relate them to the LED animation sequences.

Project Info

Time: 2 weeks
Theme: Reactive Installation, Processing
Contribution: This was a solo project. I learnt how to use Twitter APIs using a Java library called Twitter4J which I used in Processing.

A TLDR version of the project

This was a solo project where I mapped Twitter hashtags to visualize support for hillary and Trump during elections in 2016.

The visualization was in the form of sweeping LED animations on a wall outside Carnegie Children's Library. The direction of the sweeping motion was based on ythe Left vs Right analogy based on the candidates poltical affiliation. left for Democrats, Right for Republicans.

The idea stemmed from multiple inspiration points - Angry Birds, catapults, Mirror Mirror on the Wall.

The installation was a success among the crowd who stopped and took interest.

What is Twitter Twitter On the Wall?

The US Elections had been a trending topic for a good part of 2016. With both candidates being controversial, the news and social media were rife with stories, facts and opinions of all sorts, and with the elections around the corner, people were taking to social media to show their support for the candidates. The idea was to somehow visualize this information in a interesting manner using LED lights.

Twitter Twitter On The Wall is a reflection of the support that the Presidential Candidates, Hillary and Trump were receiving on Twitter before the US Presidential Elections in 2016. Takings inspiration from Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Twitter Twitter on the Wall is an interactive art installation where tweeting in favour of Hillary would trigger an LED animation sequence from Left to Right and vice-versa for trump, replicating a twitter battle of tweets (Angry Birds isnpiration) being catapulted from one side to the other.

Social Media and the Elections

We had Hillary Clinton on one side, representing the Democrats or the Left and on the other hand we had Donald Trump representing the Republicans or the Right. In the US, the two dominant parties: the Democrats and the Republicans are known as the Left and the Right respectively, as they have contrasting ideologies. That is why in most posters, one can see Hillary Clinton being shown on the left and Donald Trump on the right.


What inspired the Design?

There were 4 major aspects to the design inspiration:

Angry Birds

Catapult, a mechanism for forcefully propelling stones, spears, or other projectiles at the enemy, which has been in use as a military weapon since ancient times. The Greeks and Romans used a heavy crossbowlike weapon known as a ballista to shoot arrows and darts as well as stones at enemy soldiers.

Angry Birds

The series focuses on multi-colored birds that try to save their eggs from green-colored pigs, their enemies. As part fo the game, the player has to hurl birds using a catapult like device at the formation created by the pigs to proceed to the next level.

Angry Birds
Twitter as a Social Media Platform

Twitter was being used a lot as a social media platform to discuss about election related topics and express support for their candidates.

Mirror Mirror On the Wall
Magical Mirror in Snow White

The concept of the Magical Mirror was interesting. It depicted a wall-mounted a mirror which the Evil queen used to ask - "Mirror Mirror on The Wall". The Mirror acted as a know-it-all source of info to the queen to identify who was the most beautiful person in the kingdom.

How does it work?

The concept of "Twitter Twitter on the Wall" is an amalgamation of all these ideas into one. Using the twitter4j Java library on Processing, tweets are being queried for with definitive hashtags such as "Elections 2016" at frequent intervals. The string returned is being parsed for phrases like "VoteForHillary" or "VoteForTrump". Each time, there is a tweet in favor of Hillary, a sweep animation of LED lights is initiated from left to right, indicating a hurl of "Angry Birds" in the form of a tweet from the side of the Democrats towards the Republicans and vice versa. Thus, if one looks at the LED light wall, one can get an indication of the candidate having the upper hand, at least in the context of popularity in Twitter. And thus, extending the metaphor of the Magic Mirror to the LED Wall, one can almost inquire the probable winner of the Elections, "Twitter Twitter on the Wall..."

Some key learnings

This was a solo project. I learnt how to use Twitter APIs using a Java library called Twitter4J which I used in Processing. This was a fun project where I learnt to quickly ideate on interactive installations and also see it through implementation. It was also interesting to see people's powerful reactions on something so simple. Although it me to explain it out aloud regarding what the light sequence actually means, one way to solve for it would be to have some kind of a placard/board asking passers by to actually see the installation come to life through their own interaction.