‘Dear Data’ is a book compiled of postcards that two friends sent to each other. Rather than using words to describe their weeks, they sent artistic depictions of particular aspects of their days to each other. Laughs, smiles, compliments and complaints (among others).
I chose to collect data on my communication with others via Facebook messenger and texts. Communicating with others is very important to me – there is nothing I enjoy more than catching up with someone over a cup of coffee or in a passing conversation. However, our culture has become so digitalized that many conversations come to us indirectly – much more often than our predecessors who may have received mail via carrier pigeons.
Though I yearn for a time where I can go off the grid, and rely on direct human conversations rather than digital ones, I understand their importance to maintain connections with those far away – even as odd as text messaging is. When I do go ‘off the grid’ , I jokingly tell my friends to send me letters via carrier pigeons in order to maintain contact. Though we’ve never truly send pigeons to each other (as cool as that would be!), when I’m gone I like to think of these texts or messages being delivered by pigeons, or other birds. And so, when I was away for over a week in Poland, I decided to keep track of these messages – which was relatively easy in practice.
In my painting there is a tumulus blue sky on a long wood panel – signifying the awkwardly long distances these messages would need to travel. Each grouping of birds within a ‘bubble’ is a day, and each color of birds represents a different person (all the pink ones one of my roommates, grey a random T Mobile text, etc.)
Overall, it was interesting to see how much I received from others varied day to day – but was comforting that not a day passed without someone else thinking of me while I was away traveling.