In a Manhattan gallery, there is an art installation that uses a Raspberry Pi to control the lights, nourishing an underground field of lavender. The twist: the Pi syncs the intensity of the lights to the activity of a dozen or so Twitter accounts belonging to media personalities and members of the US government.
Turning tweets into cellulose
Artist Martin Roth has used the Raspberry Pi to access the accounts via the Twitter API, and to track their behaviour. This information is then relayed to the lights in real time. The more tweets, retweets, and likes there are on these accounts at a given moment, the brighter the lights become, and the better the lavender plants grow. Thus Twitter storms are converted into plant food, and ultimately into a pleasant lavender scent.
The piece, descriptively titled In May 2017 I cultivated a piece of land in Midtown Manhattan nurtured by tweets, is on show at the Austrian Cultural Forum, New York.
Using the Twitter API as part of digital making
We’ve seen a number of cool makes using the Twitter API. These often involve the posting of tweets in response to real-world inputs. Some of our favourites are the tweeting cat flap Flappy McFlapface, the tweeting dog Oliver Twitch, and of course Pi Towers resident Bert the plant. It’s interesting to see the concept turned on its head.
If you feel inspired by these projects, head on over to our resource introducing the Twitter API using Python. Or do you already have a project, in progress or finished, that uses the API? Let us know about it in the comments!