Twitter rain at Djerassi SDM | Leonardo

Twitter rain at Djerassi SDM

By Weidong Yang

Twitter rain installation was created at the old barn during the Djerassi open house day on July 24th, 2016. The installation is part of a series of preliminary experiments, with the goal of translating data into sensory experiences.

All election related tweets on July 19th were collected and used as data point for the installation. We identified top 9 hashtags of that day, assigned each hashtag to a IV drip station. We then played back tweets as water drops from those IV drips.

Twitter rain at old barn Twitter rain at old barn


July 19 is the second day of RNC conference. Not surprisingly, tweets were dominated by republican party. Here are the top 9 hashtags used for the installation by tweet counts:

  hashtag count
0 #rncincle 228629
1 #trump 115130
2 #trump2016 89058
3 #tcot 62814
4 #gop 45342
5 #maga 40456
6 #imwithher 38560
7 #trumptrain 35763
8 #donaldtrump 35248
9 #gopconvention 33088

Among top 9, #imwithher sits at No. 7, represents 6% of total tweets (with #tcot removed). Outside of top 9, #nevertrump comes in at #13 with 26239 tweets, #hillary at #15 with 20491 tweets. The rest of top 15 are all pro Trump.

It was expected that during RNC, tweetverse would be one-sided, but we were still shocked to see the extreme degree of unbalance. In the future blog, we will repeat the same analysis to see how much of this unbalance is due to RNC.

Tweet rain on July 19th has effectively become Trump rain. As part of the installation, We provided head mount umbrella for those who do not like the idea of getting wet by the Trump rain. Many found that to be an OK alternative for contemplating moving to the northern country.

Protection against Trump rain Protection against Trump rain


At old barn there is no cell reception, no wifi, and no electricity. There was an old generator there but broke down promptly at the beginning of the open house day. Streaming live data was thus not possible. So 1 day's data was saved to each Arduino and played back in 2 hours. Each IV drip station has an IV bag, Ardruino, electric valve, and battery pack. The Arduino controls a valve to create water droplets. About 10GB of tweet data is being collected per day and saved on Amazon S3.

The installation explores the alternative to data visualization, data physicalization. By mapping data to physical objects, it creates new possibility of gaining insights through physical intuition. This installation is part of on-going exploration of engaging our sensory experience for data insights.

IMG_8818 Kinetech Arts dance performance


During the open house, Daiane Lopes da Silva (Artistic director of Kinetech Arts) worked with dancers Amelia, Raquel, Neta and Kirill created an on-site dance performance. The dance investigated the physical environment at the old barn as well as the data associated with the installation, instigated the sensation associated with it, and explore the physicalization through movement.

IMG_8691 Piero


We have since replaced Arduino with NodeMCU, an Arduino like device but is much smaller and has build in wifi. With this update we are able to stream live tweet data to the IV drip. We are looking for a suitable space to host this installation for the rest of election 2016. We hope to expand the installation to include more data that cover a greater duration of time, also  responds to live tweets.


Weidong Yang has a Ph.D in Physics, with dissertation on quantum dots. He founded Kinetech Arts, a dance and science collaborative in SF, and Kineviz, a data visualization service company. He is currently a resident scientist at Djerassi.

Kinetech Arts is a collective of artists and scientists creating performances that combine dance, performance, painting, sound and science with the newest interactive technology, to create unique and beautiful experiences. It was recognized by the SF WEEKLY as "Best Genre-Defying Sci-Artistic Collaboration of 2014", meetup: Kinetech-Arts

Jiayi Young is an experimental artist and designer. Her work concerns with the critique of popular culture,especially as it overlaps with media culture, consumer culture and culture of mass consumption. In addition to her M.F.A. in multimedia and painting, she has earned a M.S. in Atomic Physics. Jiayi Young is an assistant professor of Design at UC Davis.

Shih-Wen Young has a Ph.D. in High Energy Physics with dissertation on the physics of Charm quark and the decay of neutrinos. He is currently a professor of Astronomy and Physics at American River College, Sacramento. He has collaborated on Art Science projects with artists, musicians, dancers, technologists, and has exhibited nationally and internationally.

Daiane Lopes da Silva is a dancer, choreographer and the artistic director of Kinetech Arts. She studied with full scholarship at P.A.R.T.S., directed by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker in Brussels. She graduated with a B.A. in Psychology, Alpha Beta Kappa, from SFSU. She was a resident artist at Marin Headlands Center for the Art in 2015. Kinetech Arts artists and guests: Amelia Eisen, Neta Singer, Travis Bennett, Raquel Boluda, Kirill Beresovski,