Within 140 Characters By Bin (Kian-Peng Ong)

random + twitter + noise

Within 140 Characters

Next to the Substation Gallery, lies a random room. The sound installation Within 140 Characters went well with the name of the room quite nicely.

140 characters, refers to the the format allowed for posting by Twitter, a hugely successful social media application used to: tell people what you are doing (status update), or a concise and abridged piece of information. It is essentially an effective broadcast media, born from the familiarity of sending Short Message Service (SMS) through our phone’s alphanumeric keypads – a keypad that allows one to enter both numbers and alphabets by keystrokes.

In Bin’s case, twitter, plus a few gadgets, is used to sample and lift twitter posts, and using them (the frequencies of posts and keywords) to control pre-recorded sound. Sound in this case, is audibly noise. Pump these through 5 speakers, you have a bizarre, semi-interactive soundscape. It is semi-interactive because the sounds are pre-recorded and the viewer merely ‘selects’ twitter keywords, and the sampling is automated by software and hardware. Some of these keywords were more relevant to Singapore’s context, such as National Service (NS), others were more ubiquitous (e.g.  the) and related to the internet (e.g. http://).  At face value, the sounds, unfortunately, do not relate to the keywords, and the viewer can only wish for a more subliminal or surreptitious  mechanical intervention.

Nonetheless, with some pretty cool technology used in this installation, notwithstanding the fact that this is an experimental open call, this installation had tremendous potential, if it went beyond the Twitter phenomena and examined a less random sound aesthetics.

5.0 of 10 stars

Substation, Random Room, 2 – 19 Sep 2011


This text was edited and posted much later than intended. The author apologizes for the lateness.


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