One Hundred & Forty Characters is a project by the brilliantly talented and award-winning photographer Chris Floyd, in which he takes pictures of people he follows on Twitter, including comedy genius Graham Linehan, the ever wonderful Miranda Sawyer, Caitlin Moran and Peter Serafinowicz:
In July 2010 I decided to begin photographing people that I follow on Twitter. The idea for this came at a moment when I realised I had not seen or spoken to any of my best half a dozen real and actual friends for over a month. Some of those people on Twitter I communicate with several times a week, in bursts of 140 characters or less, and yet I had never met any of them. As we are now well and truly living in a digital age I am aware that this state of being is only going to deepen and the traditional forms of friendship, although they will not go away anytime soon, are going to have to make more room for the new way of doing things. Where Facebook might be considered as the place in which you tell lies to all the people you went to school with, I had begun to think of Twitter as the place where you tell the truth to all those that you wish you’d gone to school with. The project rolled on indefinitely for almost a year but when, one day, I counted up the number of subjects to date and came to a number in the mid one hundred and thirties, I immediately knew where this had to end. So here they are. My new friends. 140 characters. No more and no less.
One Hundred & Forty Characters will be on show at the Host Gallery, 1 Honduras Street, London EC1Y 0TH between the 3rd & 17th November 2011.
“I like this picture because it represents my whole family. Although there’s only me and my son in it, he’s wearing a T-shirt that says Smiley on it, which is my husband’s name; and I’m five months pregnant with our daughter. So there’s four people in there, not just two.
“I look quite mad in it, which I like too. That crazy, rictus grin: I was hot, and fat, and tired and my son was playing up. The only solution was to turn him upside down and make him laugh. I notice that in another one of the 140 Characters pictures, another small boy is being held in the same way. It’s a default solution for boys, it makes them normal again, like rebooting a computer, or reprogramming Buzz Lightyear to his factory settings.”
“The beauty of Twitter is that it is only as useful as the person who is using it wants it to be. It is such a simple and flexible service that everyone who uses it does so in a different way. Not only that, but it’s a meritocracy. Not only that, but Karma seems to have something to do with it. If you use it for good, you will be rewarded, if you use it for evil, you will be blocked. As a result, it’s leading to some remarkably civil conversations between ideological enemies. If the inventors of Twitter never win a Nobel Prize, they wuz robbed. Because as far as I’m concerned, they have enabled us all to take a major evolutionary step at a crucial moment. At a time when the human race faces not one but several extinction threats, we suddenly get the ability to talk to one another.”
“I live on Twitter. My outgoing answerphone message tells people to “come and find me there”, and there’s one very simple reason; I work from home and am often so lonely I could die. Not that I want to work in an office, you understand. There, you have to deal with people you find vexatious on a daily basis. An office is an environment you have no control over. An office would be the opposite of lonely; annoying. That’s why I love Twitter.”
“For someone who has their photo taken quite a lot, I hate having my photograph taken, because I hate how I look in most photographs. There’s a kind of vanity that comes not as a result of narcissism, but as a result of whatever the opposite of narcissism is: eternal dissatisfaction with your appearance, knowing that you’re a peculiar-looking bugger. I’m very self-conscious in front of a camera. In half the photos that Chris took, I have the air of a sulky indie kid who’s just been informed that the DJ at the college disco hasn’t got anything by The Cure or The Smiths, which is clearly no way for a 40 year old father of two to look.”
“Some people dismiss Twitter as silly. And there is a lot of silly on Twitter. Even its name is silly. After three years of using it I still cringe slightly when I say ‘Twitter’. Why can’t it have a proper, grown-up name, like Google or NASDAQ?
Twitter is something different to everyone who uses it. So it’s impossible to define in any meaningful sense. You have to ‘do’ it to discover what it is, for you.”
“I am married to Chris so my relationship with the 140 Characters Project is a little different to everyone elses’.
Usually I don’t get a look in. I get to hear about it after. The Paul McCartney moment, the girl who decided it would be a better portrait if she removed all her clothes, the man diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease running around a field in the middle of winter (naked again ), the trips to Taiwan, etc etc. So when the 140 Characters Twitter Project was born I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to be involved in this thing that was so consuming him. I wanted to see what it was that was pulling him out of his morose nihilism and into some kind of happy(ish) state of mind.”
With thanks to Trevor Ward