During the London 2012 Olympics, I took part in a project for the Museum of London focusing on the ways Londoners experienced everyday life during the games, and exploring how the museum might curate digital content. The Museum’s digital curator, Hilary Young, oversaw the #CitizenCurators project, which collected around 6000 tweets using that hashtag.
With so much social interaction taking place on – and stemming from – social media, we’re presented with new challenges about collecting ephemera. Tweets aren’t tangible. We can host live streams and display video presentations, but to collect or curate unspoken words which exist only online, we have to turn them in to something else.
To celebrate the acquisition of Thomas Heatherwick’s 2012 Olympic Cauldron, the Museum has built a new gallery to house parts of the huge mechanism and the wooden forms which were used to make the copper petals which were lit by each country. The Cauldron is truly impressive up close, and cleverly displayed considering the size of the thing.
And in case you were worried I might not mention food in this post…
The canapes were not only exceptionally good, but were incredibly presented on tiny models representative of the Olympic Cauldron and petals itself. Genuinely awesome.
But before entering the newly (and essentially for a night like that, perfectly air-conditioned) pavilion, the Sackler Hall is currently crowned by a huge electronic instillation by Slade graduate Hilde Krohn Huse.
Commissioned to solve the issue of displaying the archive of #CitizenCurator tweets, the artist has transformed the waveforms of the words of the tweets, read out by an actress, in to a captivating light-show. Titled ‘Hashhush’, the piece is “a visual depiction of a passed twitter event, and emphasis on the interaction between humans and technology and how they come together to dictate a final outcome”.
The huge LED curtain encircling the gallery appears to expand and shrink in hypnotic waves as our hastily-typed words suddenly magically become a beautiful light-show – although somehow remaining as fragile and temporary as they were when first tweeted. The screen’s position in the gallery somehow completes a circuit of the nature of twitter – existing first as an idea, typed out as a tweet, sent off in to the ether, posted on a non-tangible platform, archived, read by an actress and displayed above our heads as if reincarnated back in to thoughts or brainwaves.
Ooh ALSO! As we stood listening to the opening speech I looked down at my shoes as my feet were sore, only to catch a glimpse of the most incredible, gigantic pink and purple platform clogs, and realise we were stood beside Grayson Perry (as Claire). I love his autobiographically-inspired work, which Hashhush sort of relates to in a way. But best of all he exhibited his Walthamstow Tapestry at the William Morris Gallery just after the Olympics, and I’m pretty sure he caught sight of my Strawberry Thief tattoo.
So that was the night a Turner Prize winner stood under a work of art inspired by the crap I tweeted about how crowded the tube was in the summer of 2012.