Tweet Bubble Series

"Tweet Bubble Series" (2009) is a series of four wearable artworks by the German artist Aram Bartholl: Pocket Tweets, Loud Tweets, Paper Tweets and Classic Tweets.

Tweet Bubble Series

Tweet Bubble Series at V2_

The Tweet Bubble Series is a series of four wearable artworks by the German artist Aram Bartholl: Pocket Tweets, Loud Tweets, Paper Tweets and Classic Tweets. All four works are based on the idea that the wearer, who is also a Twitter user, shows his/her latest Twitter post (so-called 'tweets') on his/her clothing in the form of a wearable speech bubble. The four prototypes were developed by Aram Bartholl in collaboration with the V2_lab during his artist in residence project in 2009.

Twitter is a Web2.0 platform that bridges the gap between blogging, instant messaging, and SMS. All messages posted on Twitter are public by default and stored as single HTML pages. Due to Twitter’s growing success, the platform was about to become a standard communication tool in 2009. The way in which Twitter is used to communicate within a social network is largely shaped by the absence of physical proximity between users and the relative anonymous social exchange that the platform allows. To investigate deeper the role of this absence of physical proximity and relative anonymous exchange in the use of Twitter, the central question to the wearable speech bubble prototypes is: What would it be like to not only show your latest message online, but also to publicly display it on your T-shirt?


Pocket Tweets

A cell phone display enabled Twitter shirt for everyday use

Pocket Tweets takes advantage of existing technology. A small Java application is offered for download to be installed on an internet activated cell phone. The application asks for the Twitter screen name, then receives the latest tweet from the web and displays the message on the screen. The concept is to wear the phone in a custom designed pocket on a shirt, jacket or bag. A speech bubble shaped cut-out in the cloth shows the displayed message to the public. The ubiquitous mobile phone turns a normal shirt into wearable technology. The private screen of the mobile phone becomes a public display.

Loud Tweets

A LED name badge hacked into a personal Twitter feed scroll ad

Loud Tweets uses low cost, mass-produced LED name badges (made in China, modelled on the classic LED bar displays) to display tweets. Scrolling text on red LED bars represents a very typical and specific advertising culture. It demands of attention and is used in any kind of public space from shopping centres to public transport. The small 21x7 pixel, red LED name badge is programmed by three buttons to display 255 characters as a scrolling message. Through a connected Arduino board, the display receives the latest Twitter message of the user. Loud Tweets is a custom hacked device of fairly low cost hacked components. The attention culture of Twitter and the cheapness of LED combine into a personal micro advertisement sign for public space.

Paper Tweets

Twitter messages printed on stickers for event crowds

In contrast to Pocket Tweets and Loud Tweets which are designed to to be used in everyday public space, Paper Tweets functions as a conference intervention ideal for big events. Conference visitors are invited to wear speech bubble stickers with their own latest Twitter message on their clothing to engage real life / virtual identity - cross communication. Participants must first register with their Twitter screen name. In return they receive a blank speech bubble including a RFID tag. The user receives regularly printed updates of his/her own twitter message. A mobile team equipped with RFID scanners and label writers prints the individual current message of each registered user in real time on the spot. The relation between digital and printed feed combined with the chase for the actual printed message leads to an absurd play of interaction. The ephemeral nature of Twitter posts is subverted by paper based communication.

Classic Tweets 

Standard claims sewn into thermo chromatic enabled T-shirts

Classic Tweets incorporates a novel technology to use a T-shirt/hoodie as a display: a conductive wire is sewn into thermo-chromatic cloth. The cloth changes colour on temperature change. When the conductive wire is heated up by electricity, the shirt's thermo chromatic ink around the wire turns white. Three very common Twitter messages are sewn into the Classic Tweets hoodie and can be separately 'lit up' by the user: 'Having coffee', 'Looking at …' or 'retweet'. The presence and the need to share the moment are the momentum of the service. The repetitive nature of everyday life is condensed into the Classic Tweets T-shirt.



The Tweet Bubble Series has been developed as part of the Wearable Technology artist-in-residence program at V2_ Lab in Rotterdam during the spring of 2009.

Artist: Aram Bartholl
V2_Lab project team: Piem Wirtz, Simon de Bakker, Stan Wannet
Hand embroidery Pocket Tweets: Nina Thielicke of lina-textil.de


Technical documentation

Technical documentation of the project can be found on V2_'s development wiki: https://trac.v2.nl/wiki/tweet-bubble-series/technical-documentation

Also available in archived form (2009): tweet-bubble-series-technical-documentation



V2_lab blog-item on Tweet Bubble Series: http://www.v2.nl/lab/projects/tweet-shirt-project/tweet-shirt/view

Tweet Bubble Series at Aram Bartholl's website: http://www.datenform.de/tweet-bubble-series.html

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