It’s well established that social media platforms and blogging software have encouraged us to open up about our personal lives in unprecedented ways. But under the deluge of too much information, we’re still left with a sort of digital anonymity, a textual unreality. For all of those shared details, audiences aren’t privy to the environment that inspired the melodramatic outburst, pithy sideswipe, joyous affirmation, or dark confession.
Two photographers aim to reconnect place with pronouncement. Urbanite’s Cara Ober tipped us off to the ongoing project of Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman, who are obsessed with the anonymous, occasionally profound ruminations of Twitter users. “We think of these photos as historical monuments to small, lived moments,” Larson told Urbanite. “It also grounds the virtual reality of social networking data streams to the physical world, while examining how the nature of one’s physical space may influence online presence.”
Interesting ideas, but how were they executed? “Fascinated by the ability of digital media to simultaneously isolate and unite people,” writes Ober, “they have used geographical coordinates embedded in Twitter updates to document tweet locations in downtown Chicago, the California desert, up and down the East Coast, and in rural England.”
More simply, the process works like this: When Larson or Shindelman come across an evocative tweet sent from someone’s smartphone, they note the recorded geolocation and—GPS in hand—hunt down where that 140-character dispatch originated. Once in location, the photographers snap a shot of the surroundings and present the image and text side by side. “The messages run the gamut from sexy to angry to depressing or shocking,” writes Ober. The juxtapositions cryptically and powerfully speak for themselves.
These first few pieces are a sneak-peek at Larson and Shindelman’s forthcoming “Desertscapes” collection.