New exhibit turns Trump's tweets into art, stress relief

The exhibit uses conservative twitter accounts to power fluorescent lights, which in turn nurture a lavender field

Published June 5, 2017 2:52PM (EDT)

 (Twitter/Donald J. Trump)
(Twitter/Donald J. Trump)

Normally, there's little good that can come from from a Trump tweet. One artist, however, is putting these manic missives from our president to good use.

Martin Roth, an Austrian-born artist, currently based out of New York, has turned a subterranean gallery in the Austrian Cultural Forum in Midtown Manhattan into a lavender field — grown by the light of fluorescent bulbs powered by twitter. President Donald Trump's twitter.

Roth said that he wanted to address the "heightened anxiety" American's have been feeling since the election.

"The pace and tenor of the current political discourse, blasted out through social media 24/7 without respite, affects our psyche in a profound way," he said.

The exhibit, titled "In May 2017 I cultivated a piece of land in Midtown Manhattan nurtured by tweets" features a room full of lavender planted in rows from wall to wall. Overhead, bulbs synched by a tiny computer brighten and dim in tandem with tweets from the president. As the tweets grow in popularity, the lights get brighter.

It's not only Trump's twitter that drives the exhibit, though surely at the rate he tweets it would be more than enough. Tweets from about 20 different, Trump-affiliated accounts, including those of press secretary Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway, also contribute to the lights. Some of the president's favorite news sources are also connected to the project,  @breitbart, @seanhannity and @tuckercarlson just to name a few.

The wallpaper surrounding the lavender bed depicts a forest scene, offering viewer the illusion that they are immersing themselves in nature. The scent of the lavender, too, soothes viewers' stress. As Roth told Salon, "I always wanted to make an exhibition with a scent. An exhibition where the art enters the viewer.'

While the goal was to promote a soothing environment, not every visitor was feeling it. For some, the scent can be overpowering, especially when combined with the buzz of the fluorescents.

One critic had a somewhat different, though quite interesting, contrary take on the experience. "The total effect is less an immersion into the woods, and more a sojourn into a doomsday bunker of the One-Percent," one viewer wrote on the Forum's website. "Any calm this environment induces is innately tinged by suspicion of its circumstances." Art wouldn't be art if it didn't engender dissenting viewpoints.

Interestingly, the Austrian Cultural Forum is itself mere blocks from Trump Tower.

Since the election, art has become a preferred means of anti-Trump expression among those who feel disenfranchised by the results of the election.

Immediately following the inauguration, actor Shia LeBeouf installed his piece, "HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US," at various locations around the U.S., while the University of Wisconsin, Madison held an anti-Trump art show, titled "First 100 days."

These official installations are not alone. Hundreds of street artists, amateurs and even coporate marketing departments have hopped on the anti-Trump chorus as well.

Roth's "In May 2017 I cultivated a piece of land in Midtown Manhattan nurtured by tweets" will be on view at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York until June 21.

By Katie Serena

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