Swan_Tweeter 2021

Swan_Tweeter was a work made in direct response to several strange ecological decisions that were made by local citizens, government and environmental protection agencies at the start of spring 2021, right as we were starting out first Danube based fluvial ecologies project, that became the Riverbank Buffet. As is the case everywhere, spring is a time when humans and non-humans emerge from their relative winter shelters and begin to enjoy the transitioning weather into the summer month. 

In this particular case, the hatching of local bird populations, including swans coincided with local humans taking to the water in their leisure crafts. What was particular odd about this specific story is that a lone swan decided to nest right in the heart of the urban Danube area in Linz, at a beach along what is know as the Donaulande, a place known for its leisure activities and in fact a popular dog walking spot and an area that speed boats are allowed. 

As often happens in spring when the snow on the alps melt, dams are opened etc. some slight flooding (well raised river levels) occurred and quite a fuss was made on social media about ‘saving’ this one particular swan mother and her nest full of eggs. The implementation of these good intentions however was somewhat poorly executed and a protective fence somehow enabled dogs to attack the swan and her next but keep their owners out, during this period of raised water. This effort was well documented, making local news and social media under the moniker of ‘people power’.

Unfortunately, once the water levels reduced again and the swan next was moved back to its original riverbank position, a new flood of people power emerged, that being locals speeding in their boats, too close to the banks, causing a huge wake throughout the following days that led to each newly hatched cygnet being drowned as their hapless mother tried in vein to teach them how to paddle along the river. 

The sheer stupidity and subsequent lack of acknowledgment of any responsibility for the fate of these poor creatures inspired Swan_Tweety. The work functions as a floating leisure craft, disguised amongst the other such vessels and somehow avoiding to be stolen throughout the duration of the STWST48x7 Festival, where it was exhibited. Swan_Tweeter functions as a beacon of truth, an online reality check in the form of a Twitter troll, powered by the very people that destroyed is living kin. Using a basic LTE hub, a solar powered Raspberry Pi with an accelerometer, every time a boat or craft would go at a speed or weight that caused enough wake to trigger the application, the noble bird would post a series of tweets pulled from online that directely addressed issues relating to that particular stretch of the Danube, from general ecological data, so other stories of mismanagement and in particular to the negative effects of the annual Linzer Klangwolke, where the city swells from neighbouring visitors eager to see lasers, loud noises and usually fireworks, leaving behind a total ecological disaster that is rather quickly cleaned up and forgotten by the city. 

This work acts as a permanent archive of ephemeral activities, reminding us that every action we take leaves a permanent, often negative impact on local ecosystems. 

For the archive of the mixed reality Twitter performance see the account here: https://twitter.com/swan_tweeter