How a York twitterstorm has been turned into art

Recreating the twitterstorm – Greg McGee. Photograph: Ben Bentley
3 Nov 2015 @ 10.45 am
| Entertainment

A year ago, UNESCO designated York with City of Media Arts status, and immediately a minor storm erupted in the Yorkshire twittersphere.

Jubilation, bafflement, scorn – York’s social media conversation had never been so lively, and one year later the the subject remains as divisive as ever.

Text: Technology, Disability, and Art

According To McGee, Tower Street, York

Until Tues Nov 10

Gallery website

It’s a development that caught the attention of gallery owner Greg McGee who saw the online battle as fertile ground for an exhibition in his white cube gallery, According to McGee, opposite Clifford’s Tower.

Via the gallery’s charitable arm, New Visuality, Greg worked on collating the diverse opinions.

He then sourced design agencies to compose from the Tweets collectible giclee posters now exhibited as Text: Technology, Disability, and Art.

Making the most of the UNESCO status
Starting point: York’s UNESCO status

The show launched last week to coincide with Illuminating York and will continue until Tuesday, November 10.

Funded by Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts, Text uses the posters of Tweets collected by Greg as a platform to explore opinions, inclusivity, and digital innovation.

Greg said:

The worst thing to do was to type up the public’s Tweets on Photoshop on one hand, have the Tweets written by young people with learning difficulties printed on letterpress on the other, and then display them all in our light installation without a unified, expert eye.

Luckily we’ve got design agency Choir of Vision on board, and so the posters of the Tweets can hang just as beautifully as the letterpress posters provided by Shipley’s Print Project.

Light artist Nick Walters is ensuring that when they’re projected through our front window onto Tower Street, all Tweets and slogans look unified and world class.

It’s been an extremely gratifying project.

Opinionated vim

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Three of the posters

The posters themselves have lost none of their opinionated vim. They are based on Tweets by York people including @Sinjy:

@colinhall194 Tweeted:

@GSwinburn said:

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Three more posters

And in the opposite corner, @York_Today said:

And @Mat_LB had:

It is a sparky dialogue, and Greg is pleased to see the posters sell to people keen to purchase a little piece of York’s contemporary history.

“The posters themselves are beautiful, and their polemic nature has a certain energy, but I also think that Tweets are fascinating items in themselves,” he said.

They’re not built to last, by definition they’re a quick glimpse of an opinion before the next wave of opinions crash in.

But they’re in the public arena, and when you get a batch of Tweets focused on York as a City of Media Arts it makes perfect sense for a contemporary art gallery to bottle them and exhibit them as curiosities.

Greg said one of their collectors came to York especially for Illuminating York and thought the posters were the perfect souvenir to reflect what she saw as York’s current status.

Due to the display’s popularity, the Tweet posters will continue for another week. Greg is looking forward to revisiting the conversation with a similar New Visuality exhibition next year.

And his own opinion? The City Of Media Arts designation is “the most exciting development in York for decades”.