// new media class

Martin Kim Luge — Weeping willow

Beauty of Data — Winter 2007

One often wonders, what friends who you haven‘t seen for a long time, are doing. At the same time, online social network platforms such as mySpace.com, Facebook or StudiVZ enable people to stay in contact. My projects look at this peripheral awareness of one‘s social circle; the mood tags on these portals, that communicate in some level the presence of the others‘ mental state without direct contact.

However, describing one‘s own mood turns out to be quite difficult. So much worse, when you have to choose one from the predefined 200 adjectives at mySpace.com. The reality is more complex than that, and a single keyword is not sufficient to do justice to the feeling.

These data sculptures attempt to maintain this ambivalence. When looking at these sculptures, one should not directly be able to read the mental state of the subject, who might feel „bored“, „angry“ or „freshed“. Instead, the focus is on conveying more general feeling of the friend‘s mood. The mere process of thinking of the moods of the other is at the essence of these works. It is more through introspection rather than direct display of hard facts that the connection between friends and colleagues is maintained.

Every branch of the weeping willow stands for an online friend symbolically and the slope of a single branch is communicating their happiness or sadness. In other words: the happier the friend, the higher the branch will grow. If the branch hangs, it might be a high time to phone or visit him or her. Once a week the branches are sent to the user by post, and the recipient can put together a new tree to the growing forest himself.

The mood are read every week. The branches are cut as construction set by laser-cutting and is sent by post to the user. Contemplative and with a cup of coffee every sunday you put the branches to the weeping willow together. Carefully you break the botton and the branches from the wooden board. Every branch is individually labelled and has a unique slot in the bottom plate. There is a clear assignment of friend and you can see easily the developing of moods. As weeks go by, a growing forest of weeping willows are collated, manifesting the collective state of one‘s social network

The individual branches are made of different segments. The alignment of the segments depend on a numerical value assigned to different adjectives, ranging from 0 to 10, for sad and excited respectively. A new segment is recorded for every day of a week. And in the end of the week, the tree is lasercut and send to the recipient. As a graphical element, every segment contains etched „seeds“ that represent the scalar value of the adjective.