• 06.27.11

Ivan Sharko Turns Bitching On Twitter Into Digital Paintings

Mindless blather on Twitter forms the groundwork for more than 120 beautiful paintings.

Finally, someone has given us a serious artistic study of a most serious artistic subject for our time: boredom on Twitter. Ivan Sharko, a Toronto designer, has managed to take 140-word kvetches about things like school, church, and, inching further along the meta continuum here, Twitter itself, and turn them into portraits, a sort of aestheticized banality that, we guess, makes them the Campbell’s soup cans of our day.


Sharko developed an app that let folks “paint” portraits of the ennui of the Twitterati. Over the course of four days in May, the app scanned Twitter for stuff people were bitching about and connected these subjects to photos on Flickr, by using the same tag and geo location. Then, the public used a touch screen table, rigged with a drawing engine, to give bored tweets abstract, visual form. As Sharko writes in an email:

The artwork became a collaboration between the real users who physically interacted with the application and Twitter & Flickr participants. Physical interactions defined the composition of the artwork and some aspects of its look, while Twitter & Flickr users directly affected the rules that guided the engine’s colors, shapes, sizes and behaviors.

The fascinating thing is that a lot of the paintings in The Boring Gallery end up conveying much more than just boredom. Tweets about boredom on Twitter in Toronto resemble a web spun by the world’s most polite spider. Tweets about boredom with life in New York appear as the picture of chaos, with lots of black (natch). And tweets about boredom at church in Los Angeles look like a bright, tense ball that’s ready to explode. It’s got to be the most honest religious painting we’ve ever seen.

The project generated more than 120 paintings. Check out Sharko’s online gallery here.

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.