All in Pieces
Contemplate in the Age of Information Fragmentation
Anthony J. Deen
Kan Yang LiWriting and Research
Nowadays, people have got used to getting information from social media, but the scattered pieces of information results in making people get wider access of the world but think less deeply. Along with the increasing of information, it becomes more and more difficult for people to concentrate and integrate so many fragments to reconstruct meanings.
Social media is becoming a primary source of information and news, and Twitter is a significant representative of social media. As we know, “short”, “quick” and “inconsistent” are the basic characteristics of tweets. Each tweet can only contain 140 characters. According to the statistics from the Internet Live Stats website, “Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter, which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year”. And these are only the statistics of a single social media website.
To quickly cope with the ocean of this scattered information, our brains have to change the way we used to take in information. Before the Internet, human brains usually read in linear way, but since the development of Internet, to deal with huge amount of information, our brains are getting used to scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. However, consuming fast and fragmented information not only distracts people’s attention but also has negative impacts on human brains. Maryanne Wolf, a Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist, worried that people will “lose the ability to express or read convoluted prose” and “become Twitter brains”.
Meanwhile, attention is becoming a scarce resource. Advertisers, politicians and even normal people who just want to develop the sense of self-presence try different ways to compete for attentions and occupy the only leftover vacant time of others. People get more and more exhausted drowning in the ocean of fragmented information. With this kind of experience, I started to ask myself two questions – how does information fragmentation change the way we construct meaning and ultimately effect the quality of our lives? Can a multimedia art piece inspire gallery visitors to experience and simultaneously contemplate the phenomenon of information fragmentation?
To answer my own questions, I created “All in Pieces”. I used Twitter API, OpenFrameworks, Max/MSP and VPT7 as my tools. The computer program can grab the tweets from Twitter in real time and project them on a set of small mirror pieces. At the same time, every letter from those tweets can be interpreted to a sound frequency. The mirror pieces are used to reflect the light emitted from the projector. They were cut in different shapes and set with different angles, so the light hitting on them can disperse to fill the space. The reflection process can be regarded as a metaphor of the information forwarding and spreading process, in which, information nearly inevitably gets shattered and distorted. Thus, the visuals and sounds combine together to create an integrative experience of information fragmentation for the visitors.
Shuangshuang Huo is an interaction designer and filmmaker. She studied Film & TV and minored in Psychology in China. After graduation, she took part in film and TV production as assistant director, script supervisor, video editor, videographer and photographer. In order to seek for new ways of expressions, she keeps breaking her own limits, trying new things and enriching skill sets.