If a Tweet Falls in a Forest, Will Anybody Hear It?

An age-old question, answered for the digital era.

Ah, the forest of social media. Have we finally found ourselves in the Facebooks and Twitters, or are we just lost in the digital woods? How has electronic communication changed the way we share our thoughts? In the dark and fascinating short film Listen and Repeat, a megaphone broadcasts tweets that contain the phrase “nobody listens” to an audience of trees, maybe, just maybe, trying to answer some of these questions.

“Everybody talks but nobody listens,” cries one tweeter.

"I have this condition where I talk and talk and nobody listens."

“Twitter makes me feel like I’m home. Nobody listens to me there either.”

In an email exchange with The Atlantic’s Video channel, filmmaker Rachel Knoll explains how the project was created:

To make this, I had used a Raspberry Pi (microprocessor), programmed with code to search using the twitter API for the words "nobody listens." There was a library that could be installed to create a text to speech voice. The microprocessor was then connected to the auxiliary of the megaphone via the Raspberry Pi to broadcast the tweets.

Knoll notes that "Once words are spoken, their perception is based on one's personal memory and has a more ephemeral quality, while the thoughts we broadcast online can be looked back upon in the future and understood, with perhaps a misunderstood clarity." She is currently working on a project that imagines what the city of London would look like if electricity were generated from animal waste through household anaerobic digesters.

The installation is no longer standing, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from tweeting their feelings.

To see more of Rachel’s work, including other films in the series, visit her website here: http://rachelknoll.com

Sam Price-Waldman is a senior associate video producer at The Atlantic. More

Price-Waldman's documentaries have been featured by Vimeo Staff Picks, on PBS, and at film festivals including AFI SilverDocs and Full Frame.

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