The Trumpet of the Swan (Experimental Work)
This artwork, “The Trumpet of the Swan”, is a robotic-writing machine which automatically inscribes every tweet published from the Twitter account @realDonaldTrump onto a continuous roll of archival paper, using a custom-coded machine-cursive script.
The title of the work is taken from a 1970 children’s book of the same name by E. B. White, which tells the story of a mute swan who, without the ability to sing, is unable to find a mate, if not for the help of a small boy, who saves the swan by stealing a trumpet for him from a music store.
The artwork’s title also refers to Mr. Trump’s use of Twitter’s social-media messaging service, which not only has a singing bird as a logo, but also describes the activity of posting a message with the neologism ‘to tweet’. Since his inauguration as the 45th President of the U.S.A, Donald Trump has published over 4500 tweets from his personal Twitter account.
Our scribal-robot writes in a custom-coded “machine-cursive” which is both parametric and procedural. Its machine movements mimic human handwriting gestures to generate letterforms, words, sentences and paragraphs calculated “on the fly” (to remain with our bird metaphor). But unlike its human equivalent, this robotic-scribe can write Mr Trump’s complete oeuvre of tweets in approximately 30 days without pause, after which the robot will wait and ‘listen’ for the next tweet to write.
E.B. White’s children’s story ends when the swan learns to play the trumpet and finds its mate, while the boy learns a moral lesson about his misguided attempt to help the swan. In our artwork, we recast Mr. Trump’s “tweeting” on the metaphysical plane as his attempt at finding happiness, and we reflect on our own collective responsibility in providing him this voice.
This Tokyo TDC award encourages us to continue experimenting with robotic-typography and machinic-writing.