Tate Media has launched a unique opportunity to communicate one-to-one with renowned artist Ai Weiwei. Combining online and video technologies with the rise of social media and the popularity of contemporary art, this project enables visitors to Ai Weiwei’s Unilever Series commission, Sunflower Seeds, to engage in a global dialogue about the work.
A series of video booths installed in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern allow visitors to record questions and comments for the artist, or send a video answer to one of the artist’s pre-recorded questions. Each week until May 2011, the artist will be selecting new videos to respond to and recording his answers. The website, featuring all the uploaded videos and responses, is also presented on touch-screens located on the Level 3 Concourse at Tate Modern.
People outside the Turbine Hall can join in via Twitter. Ai Weiwei will be monitoring and replying to postings with the hashtag #tateaww, and the resulting conversation can be seen both on Twitter.com and on Tate Online.
For Ai Weiwei, life is art, politics and exchange. The act of individuals voicing their opinions and communicating with one another is of great importance to him and his practice. Whether blogging, tweeting or making and circulating videos, Ai is passionate about speaking with people around the world. This new project, One-to-One with the Artist, is also a milestone in Tate’s use of new media technology and the internet, transforming the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern into the hub of a global conversation.
The technology behind One-to-One with the Artist has been developed by award-winning digital consultancy Cogapp using the building blocks of new internet technologies. The system was put together from the following components: LiveCode for the kiosk software; Drupal and PHP for the website; Brightcove for worldwide content delivery; a Python application coordinating between the kiosks and the website, and Twitter’s API for integration between Twitter and the website. The kiosk hardware is a set of Apple Mac minis equipped with touch-screens.
Marc Sands, Director, Tate Media and Audiences said:
In recent years, Tate Media has found a variety of new ways for visitors to engage with the Unilever Series commissions, from iPhone apps to interactive websites. Ai Weiwei’s own passion for new communication technologies has made it possible for us to develop something really special this year, which we hope people around the world will enjoy.
Alex Morrison, Managing Director, Cogapp said:
The exciting nature of Tate’s concept has inspired our team to try to produce something unique. We are very much looking forward to seeing what happens when the public join in Ai’s conversation using the system we have built. We would like to say thank you to Tate and Ai Weiwei for the privilege of being part of this experiment and to the team at LiveCode for their software and support that helped us to get it up and running.