1stfans Twitter Art Feed Artist for January 2009: An Xiao

In the same spirit that we asked Swoon to launch 1stfans in person (that is to say, with the Museum’s existing community in mind), we are delighted to announce that An Xiao is going to be the first artist on the 1stfans Twitter Art Feed. We’ve known An for a while and were ecstatic when she decided to submit a proposal for the 1stfans Twitter. Many of our community may already know An because her work was in the top 25% of Click! and perhaps you’ve seen her blog or her Twitter feed (both of which Shelley and I follow). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her work is part of the Micro-Macro exhibition in NYC running through the end of this year, so hurry, go quick. But none of these reasons are why she was selected (lest you think that we are granting anyone favors). An’s proposal for using the Twitter Art Feed simply blew us away and when we forwarded it to curators Eugenie Tsai, Patrick Amsellem, and Lauren Ross, they were equally enamored. Since I’m not a curator, I’ll spare you my analysis and simply share with you how An will be using the Twitter Art Feed in her own words:

In January 2006, Western Union put to rest the telegram, the groundbreaking new technology that allowed nearly-instant intercontinental communication and enjoyed almost two centuries of communications usage. Two months later, a new medium emerged, similar in many ways: Twitter. In a world of email, AIM and cell phones, it made barely a blip, but its importance is quickly becoming clear.

I propose using the 1stfans feed to tweet in Morse code. As writer Nicholas Carr noted, the parallels are apparent–speed, brevity, and a need for acronyms–, but the purposes are almost entirely separate. Whereas telegrams were used for business and important personal communication, tweets generally act as wide broadcasts and rarely contain substantive information per se, which emails and blogs are better suited for. In other words, telegrams conveyed news of deaths, deals and diplomacy; tweets convey breakfast habits.

Through tweeting Morse code, I aim to explore instant communication’s new direction by recalling its history. Rather than important issues, I will communicate daily minutiae, such as “Brushing my teeth” and “Tired. Need coffee.” Such usage of telegraph technology would have been inconceivable in its heyday. In so doing, I want to encourage 1stfans viewers to examine the evolution of instant communication and what purpose, exactly, is served by sharing such minor details of one’s life.

Samuel Morse, in his first telegraph, asked, “What hath God wrought?” His invention changed the world, especially with its influence on politics and business. What have Twitter, and other microblogging media, wrought upon the way we connect with others? What doors have they opened in the realm of personal and business relationships, and how have they expanded our sense of identity?

The 1stfans Twitter Art Feed is no longer a benefit of 1stfans membership, but the original feed in its entirety has been archived on the Brooklyn Museum website.