Ellsworth Kelly Hacked My Twitter is a real-time chart of postings from people I follow on Twitter. I have manually reduced the individual avatars of those I follow to a single, representative color, and each block shown represents an individual tweet that has come through my Twitter feed. This method of reductive abstraction largely characterizes my pre-residency work, and 2007’s Barack’s Twitter even contains a "Following" grid in the right-hand column. What’s new here, however, is that the grid is being generated in real-time, with the top-left square representing the most recent post. The remaining squares are presented left-to-right, top-down in reverse chronological order. A viewer can actively change the composition of the grid by simply changing the size of the browser window. Rows and columns can be added or removed, causing the individual squares to shift and/or wrap, thus creating a new composition. While the actual content of the tweet is not shown, the author, time, and date of the post can be viewed by placing your cursor over any given square.
This piece was always conceptualized to be a color grid, but it wasn’t until I started Photoshopping mockups that I thought of Ellsworth Kelly and, specifically, his grid pieces (such as Colors for a Large Wall). The visual aesthetic is certainly similar, but the nature of how the two grids are arranged couldn’t be more different. Kelly’s color square pieces are arranged in an arbitrary sequence, whereas this piece is a direct chronological representation of my Twitter feed. While unpredictable, it is certainly not arbitrary. So, as a title, Ellsworth Kelly Hacked My Twitter only holds up on a visual level and not a conceptual one. I just think it’s more fun than, say, TwitterGrid, for instance.
Many, many thanks go out to Donovan Buck for providing the scripting that makes this piece possible. Donovan also acted as a brainstorming foil, and – most importantly – put up with a few bouts of designer indecision. Thank you, Donovan!