Falling Times (New York, 2008)

Barack Obama pilots his election campaign against Republican John McCain primarily through rhetorical and medial means, although scandals surrounding his Republican opponents are as much responsible for his political triumph as his extraordinary communicative sympathy. Everyone can now be Schröder and Schwarzenegger, the mixing of politics and everyday opinions is becoming omnipresent, political opinions of European or American nature are not only no longer universally applicable, they are beginning to lose all supra-civic authority. The title, which is an allusion to the New York Times, also plays with this fact. Students as well as other cosmopolitan sections of the world public discover that social media are not only a fantastic economic tool, but are increasingly becoming a catalyst and soon a prerequisite for careers of all kinds. Falling Times, which wants to be nothing less than the figurative, infinite social media commentary accompanying the contradicting official channels’ news, projected onto the facades of the European metropolises, as well as the Czech Center in New York and Lichthof 7 at the ZKM, is a work, which, through its algorithmically supported consumer-generated image stream, outlines a new Consumer 2.0 or Prosumer, who will soon be able to navigate through the sea of ​​news by a naturally growing understanding of network mechanisms and the ability to search for and learn to close structural holes.[1]

Computer, projector, software: the external browser service TwapperKeeper (now HootSuite) was programmed in such a way that Twitter messages containing certain keywords are stored in a table that has an unique IP address assigned to it. Kamila B. Richter previously used these keywords as a template for pictograms in the form of action script files (* .as). With the help of JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), a lean data exchange format, Twitter messages are now broken down by keyword within the custom made Falling Times app and translated into the corresponding pictograms – when several keywords per message are discovered, pictogram hybrids are generated algorithmically. The resulting vector graphic pictograms are then animated and projected using the object-oriented scripting language ActionScript. Adobe will stop supporting and distributing Flash in 2020.

Paul Kenig

[1] Nicole Scheidenegger, „Strukturelle Löcher“, in: Handbuch Netzwerkforschung, eds. Christian Stegbauer, Roger Häußling (Wiesbaden: Springer VS Verlag), 2010.