Tweets in Space
Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern
Tweets in Space beams Twitter discussions from participants worldwide towards GJ667Cc – an exoplanet 22 light years away that might support extraterrestrial life. We originally performed this work on September 21st 2012, as part of the International Symposium on Electronic Art in New Mexico (ISEA2012).
During the 30-minute performance, we collected all tweets with our custom #tweetsinspace tag. More than 50 press articles – including the NY Daily News, BBC, Time, Wired and Scientific American – led to worldwide participation, where we gathered over 1500 texts, about 1 tweet per second.
These messages ranged from simple greetings to aliens, to worries about the destruction of Earth, to questions of extraterrestrial social and economic systems. Together and as a people, we asked questions, requested photos, and begged forgiveness for humanity’s flaws. In the various threads of ongoing conversation, the most commonly used words (other than articles like ‘the’) were please and love, followed by hello, here, help, and peace. All these voices together express existential feelings of wonder and fear, curiosity and happiness, hope and cynicism, and more.
Tweets in Space creates a tension between the depth and shallowness of sharing 140 characters at a time with the entire Internet world, in all its complexity, richness and absurdity, by transmitting our passing thoughts to everywhere and nowhere. This wasn’t just a public performance; here, we performed a public.
On November 28th, 2012, all Tweets in Space messages were transmitted via both analog and digital signals towards our target planet, using a high amplitude, high frequency radio telescope. These “twitters” are stretched across all time and space as a reflection on the contemporary phenomenon of the “status” updates we broadcast, both literal and metaphoric. Our stellar discussion will outlive all its original participants, endlessly reverberating themes of connectivity, humility, and optimism for the future.