On November 21, 2013, protestors gathered on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kiev, Ukraine to demonstrate against their government’s suspension of negotiations finalizing the European Union (EU)-Ukraine Association Agreement. Participants in the protest used the Twitter hashtag “Euromaidan” (Ukrainian: #Євромайдан; Russian: #Eвромайдан; English: #Euromaidan) to communicate and disseminate information about the demonstrations, and “Euromaidan” soon became a shorthand for a broader opposition movement. As the protests grew, these hashtags were used as a way to provide written and visual information in real-time, as well as commentary and discussion about rapidly unfolding events for a global audience.
Using a set of five riot shields, this installation presents images that circulated on Twitter with a Euromaidan hashtag between January 16 and February 24, 2014 - a time period that witnessed the most intense protests and violence between government forces and the Euromaidan movement. The images displayed are sampled from a dataset of nearly 900,000 tweets posted by over 20,000 individuals and containing over 70,0000 unique images that include photographs of the demonstrations and the violent clashes, memes, political cartoons, and screen grabs from television news broadcasts.
The individual images were collaged together and transferred directly onto the shields to correspond with the volume of image data posted over time, with the two spikes in images indicating violent clashes on January 19-23 and February 18 that resulted in 128 confirmed deaths. The animated polar image projections show the activities of individual Twitter users and of the full image dataset emanating from a single point and "exploding" outwards. When viewed together, these represent the potential power of disseminating visual information via social media as well as the difficulty in synthesizing and understanding such large quantities of information, particularly during times of social and political unrest.
This work was a collaboration with Andrew and Sofiya Asher of Indiana University Libraries and the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures.
Special thanks to:
Curt Aton & Noblitt Fabricating