Chris Somerville: Thesis Site


Thesis Statement

Excessive exposure to social media platforms are detrimental to social development, and can lead to anti-social behavior. To create awareness of this negative social impact, a conceptual installation will be created that will utilize live physical audience interaction with allegorical imagery.


The contemporary bombardment of social media has been viewed to have many socially experiential benefits. Social media platforms, like Twitter, have been shown to enhance our social lives and make our interaction with one another easier. However, many researchers have pointed to the fact that the development of social media meant to enhance our lives is proving to be detrimental to our social development. Communication with each other is not enhanced but hindered. How often have we seen a colleague stop mid-sentence to look at their text message, or witnessed the growing popularity of cyber bullying among teens. This thesis will create awareness of the negative effects of social media by the creation of an interactive installation art piece that will address these negative impacts.

The installation will be a single large screen with projected imagery and a 3D motion sensor camera. The projected image will appear to cover an entire wall. Hundreds of small emotions will fill the wall in an ever vibrating, happy, brightly colored, glowing experience. Interactivity with the piece begins as soon as the audience member steps in front of the screen. Motion and shape detection will create a live silhouette of the viewer on the screen. The silhouette will be defined by a color and imagery change of the silhouette effected emoticons. Once the user enters the installation, they have entered the world of Social Media. Seconds after the digital silhouette appears a random tweet will appear. Tweets will be drawn from a twitter subject word search and a locale parameter search. If more than one person appears in front of the screen a corresponding silhouette will appear. The longer a viewer stays the more tweets appear, the darker their silhouette becomes (physically and symbolically). This quickly leads to the silhouette fading away and ending their interactive experience. If the user returns for another experience, they may note that if they move closer to a second participant their silhouette will evolve back to the more positive state. Facing each other, shaking hands, or even hugging will elicit a second visual response from the wall. This represents, or symbolical demonstrates a socially more gratifying experience from physical contact then from digital contact via social media.

Silhouettes symbolically reflect the social behavior of the viewer. As interacting silhouettes connect, cross, and touch; this creates positive results. If silhouettes are isolated, as humans can be socially, in a digital world; this creates negative results. Thus, demonstrating human to digital relationships versus, human to human.