I was in New York recently and ran in for a whirlwind tour of the MoMA on my first night in town – Friday night when it’s free (Courtesy of the good folks at Target.)
One of the pictures there was called Twittering Machine. It’s by Paul Klee.
This is what the MoMA Highlights book says about it:
The twittering in the title doubtless refers to the birds while the machine is suggested by the hand crank. The two elements are literally a fusing of the natural with the industrial world. Each bird stands with its beak open, poised as if to announce the exact moment when the misty cool blue of the night gives way to the pink dawn. The scene evokes an abbreviated pastoral – but the birds are schackled to their perch, which is in turn connected to the hand crank.
Upon closer inspection however an uneasy sensation of looming menace begins to manifest itself. Composed of a wiry nervous line, these creatures bear a resemblance to birds only in their beaks and their feathered silhouettes; they appear closer to deformations of nature. The hand crank conjures up the idea that this “machine” is a music box, where the birds function as bait to lure victims to the pit over which the machine hovers. We can imagine the fiendish cacophony made by the shrieking birds, their legs drawn thin and taught as they strain against the machine to which they are fused.
…In Twittering Machine, Klee’s affinity for the contrasting sensibilities of humour and monstrosity converges with formal elements to create a work as intriguing in its technical composition as it is in its multiplicity of meanings.
This made me think, of course, of the latest social networking phenomenon – TWITTER – on a number of levels.
Do the folks at TWITTER have an artsy sense of humour?
Are people being lured into something they think is one thing when it is really something else.
Who we are and what we are doing is a valuable commodity these days when the advertising how-to book is being re-written every day.
In the Wikipedia entry on TWITTER I read this:
Privacy and Security
Twitter collects personally identifiable information about its users and shares it with third parties. Twitter considers that information an asset, and reserves the right to sell it if the company changes hands.
I’m a little concerned about that.
Do I need to draw you a picture?