As if spending the entire day glued to your Twitter feed weren’t enough, now you can step directly inside your social media stream. For TED2014, New York-based marketing agency MKG partnered with two digital artists (Lauren McCarthy and Kyle McDonald) to create a structure that resembles a giant photo booth. You enter your Twitter handle on a touch screen outside, then walk into the high-tech hut filled with screens and mirrors. A kaleidoscopic stream of notifications, updates, and hashtags flicker and flash around you.
Immersion installation art is on the rise. The treatment here is remarkably similar to Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s work, which won much acclaim this past year. Kusama, of course, wasn't involved in MKG's project, but fans of her will recognize the 360-degree arrangement of mirrors that she used in her Fireflies on the Water installation to produce a feeling of being swallowed whole. But instead of the the soulful, infinite reach of twinkling lights that characterizes her work, this exhibit from MKG faintly echoes the infamous scene from A Clockwork Orange, in which you can't escape from the flashing visuals on-screen.
Savvy to the occasion, MKG is using Social Soul as a chance to play Cupid: The machine sifts through your content, and uses an algorithm to match you to someone like-minded on the premises—getting you outside the belly of the digital whale and talking to real people again. Hopefully the takeaway will also circumvent any would-be existential crises.
MKG created Social Soul for Delta Airlines. See it in Vancouver, for TED2014.