Digital Art Commissioned by iShed and Arts Council England
Giant Twitter Monster sent to destroy SXSW
The Tweeture is a Social Robot who was first let loose at SXSWi 2010 by the Umbrella Group (an Arts Council England Delegation). Conference attendees were invited to help care for The Tweeture: talk to him (via twitter), to carry him around for a while and then pass him onto to someone else. The Tweeture would give you points for quality of care and players could check an online leader table to see who was the best Carer.
The brief The Tweeture was collaboratively written by the Arts Council delegates to SXSWi 2010 (The Umbrella group). The first priority was to create a high profile project that really captured peoples imaginations and attracted PR for the group. It needed to be a means to frame a conversation around digital media usage as it stood in 2010. Something that was a suitable conversation piece for each of the Artists on the delegation. The group also wanted something they could all collaborate on during SXSWi while simultaneously making few specific demands on their time. Of course, it had to be something the rest of the SXSW attendees will love.
So the Tweeture was born to answer these needs. The single most impactful part of the project was the physical robot puppet itself. This was the rabbit hole through which the rest of the project developed. Players would generally get in volved by seeing the Tweeture and asking the person holding it “what the heck is that?”. At which point the current player would start describing the little social robot they were holding, how it had GPS and talked to them on Twitter, how it liked being patted but hated being bashed etc. So It framed a set of conversations around digital media. Tweeture also got to be something of a SXSWi celebrity garnering multiple interviews with various international news channels. It even got to meet Ev Williams (CEO of Twitter). At the end of each day we would need to go an find the Tweeture. Such retrievals often went like this; Me on arrival at the late night venue ” Hi I’m looking for a small grey robot monster about this big (gestures)” Party goer “Oh you mean the Tweeture, He turned up with the guys from foursquare earlier but I think I saw him leaving with the Fire Eagle girls”
The Tweeture had a kind of bot like automatic response mechanism. It could look up it’s position and ask you about that. It could tell how it was physically being handled and could tweet about that. It also had an armory of humorously phrased questions on the value of social interactions. People would have long conversations with it during their game. In this way it could run on auto pilot and feel like it was having a contextual conversation. As we also had a delegation of artists we gave them the opportunity to puppeteer the Tweeture’s voice too. This meant they could discreetly watch a player with the Tweeture and then drop in some really personal or pertinent questions. Things like “As a woman how do you find the tech industry” or ” What’s in your goody bag” or “nice shoes can they take us to Kansas?”. The other artists could guide the conversation to interesting topics or just have some irreverent fun.
In 2010, Watershed commissioned Simon Johnson and friends to create a talking point that would get people looking up from their screens and playing together at SXSW in Austin, Texas. The result was Tweeture – a social robot that met the brief brilliantly, caused a huge online and real life stir and delivered significant learning around IOT, social objects and real life game play. Simon was a pleasure to work with – taking the aims of the commission and delivering these and so much more. Tweeture was engaging, robust and highly original. The project delivered significant PR and provided a real focus point for UK creatives at SXSW.
Clare Reddington Watershed
Here is a vid from one of the players back in 2010.