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5 Art Projects That Bring People Together Using Twilio APIs

If you’ve ever wanted to build something creative or outside-the-box with Twilio, join Twilio + CODAME ART+TECH for a virtual creative build-a-thon on February 11–12. It’s free to participate, you don’t need any experience with Twilio, and you’ll get credits to play around with and build something fun. Sign up solo and meet other creatives to work with, or join as a team. You can find all of the information at CODAME, and get a free ticket here with an optional donation.

The event will kick off with a few words from Ezra Reaves and Amy Langer of Tarot and Palm Theatre, and you’ll have a chance to get started on your project. On day two we’ll set you up with some Twilio engineers who can assist you in answering questions and troubleshooting. The event will culminate in a demo ceremony where you’ll show off what you built and a panel of judges will give feedback. The winner will receive credits to continue the project, a produced video with an interview and demo of the project for your portfolio, promotion from Twilio + CODAME, and of course, swag.

For some inspiration ahead of the build-a-thon, check out these five art projects that were created using Twilio technology as a part of the experience.

A Counting by Ekene Ijeoma and Poetic Justice at MIT Media Lab

Ekene Ijeoma is an artist, Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT and Director of Poetic Justice at MIT Media Lab. He draws on data and lived experience to explore social inequality through his multimedia works. In 2019 Poetic Justice started a project called A Counting, “ an ongoing series of linguistic portraits of the US featuring various spoken and sign languages.” The series focuses on different cities within the US, and is created through submissions via phone or camera recordings of people counting to 100 in their languages. The group remixes the recordings into counts of 100 with different individuals and languages for each number. The project has been featured in The New York Times, Boston Globe, Frieze, and NPR. It is ongoing and conducted nationwide as well as in specific regions. Call one of the numbers below to participate:

Vaporloop by Tilde Ann Thurium and Ekate Kuznetsova

Photos courtesy of Tilde Thurium and Ekate Kuznetsova

During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, artist (and Twilion) Tilde Thurium turned to art as a grounding force in their life, and witnessed art popping up around San Francisco, like chalk drawings, yarn bombing, and pieces by the Paint the Void project, which gave artists grants to create murals in abandoned storefronts. Tilde pivoted their practice to use art for social good, and teamed up with their partner Ekate to create an experience that would foster connection at a safe distance.

The artists formed an interactive piece called VAPORLOOP, with the theme of vaporwave at its core. At a distanced in-person event, participants came together, formed groups, and rotated through stations, like chalk pictionary drawing, semaphore (the alphabet flag waving language) puzzle solving, sticker graffiti collaging, and a phone RPG.

The groups could scan QR codes to indicate where they should go next, and opted-in to a SMS group chat powered by Twilio. One of Twilio tools that Tilde and Ekate relied heavily upon to build the group chat and RPG is Twilio Studio, a visual editor that allows you to build with little or no code. You can see a snippet of one of their flows below:

Because the experience was so engaging from an audio perspective, they were also able to showcase the event with an audio artifact. You can experience the dystopian remnants of Vaporloop for yourself by calling (408) 300–9177.

Melt Down by Justin Levesque

Photo courtesy of One Dynamic System

Justin Levesque is an interdisciplinary artist with a BFA in Photography who has exhibited internationally and has created independent artist residencies throughout the US. The piece you see above was shown at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in an exhibition called Melt Down that featured works of art and activism around climate change. The exhibition displayed twelve images under blue-plexi made from photo negatives that Justin captured in the Arctic. Some of the images were digitally altered and in some laser-cut lines sourced from scientific graphs about the transference of light through the ice. Those negative spaces were turned into their own objects that protruded from the wall.

Next to the installation, an information sheet asked the viewer to call, 207–806–5204. The caller then heard: “ Perhaps we are frozen in fear. Stuck in place to avoid being seen. But our mother, she can no longer hide. So, she fights. She melts to save herself. How does the Arctic make you feel?” After the tone, participants could record a message. You can experience it for yourself by calling 207–806–5204.

Photo courtesy of Tarot & Palm Theatre

The Program by Ezra Reaves and Amy Langer of Tarot and Palm Theatre

Founded by Amy Langer and Ezra Reaves, Tarot & Palm Theatre creates new performance work that challenges traditional modes of storytelling by pulling apart theatrical conventions to their base elements.

Their inaugural piece, The Program, was conceived of, written, and produced during the COVID-19 case spike in early 2021, which led to renewed quarantine policies across much of the US. The show was performed entirely over the phone: audience members called into an automated line and were led down a telephonic wormhole into an absurd version of a corporate phone tree. Audience members called it “the most unexpected 45 minutes of the last year,” and “the kind of connection-making, heart-growing theater the world needs.”

Photos courtesy of Danielle Baskin

You can hear from the artists themselves at the creative build-a-thon kickoff on February 11!

Dialup by Danielle Baskin

Danielle Baskin is a product designer, situation designer, visual artist, and the CEO of Dialup, a voice-based social network that connects people to each other in surprising ways. She has sold products and experiences to people around the world: optical illusions of a cloud to NASA, ice cream tricycles to Nickelodeon, branded avocados to Salesforce, and bicycle helmets to Reebok.

Dialup is a free app that connects people around the world through automatic calls that anyone can opt in to. You can connect with people at random, or by topics like books you’re reading, tarot, or on the night of the full moon. Their site describes it like this: “Dialup is the magic of old telephones before there were robocalls.”

Danielle spoke about Dialup at Relay, Twilio’s Developer Conference, and shared that through this project she has connected with people across the world, like a makeup vlogger in Dubai, a woman taking care of her mom in Oman, and a person in Australia who had traveled the world.

As a Dialup user, I have spoken about heartbreak with someone who recently split from a longtime partner, read poetry with a woman in Massachusetts, and learned about what it was like to fight for desegregation from a civil rights activist in the South.

Dialup has been featured in Artnet, The New York Times, Vice, The Guardian, The Telegraph, and NPR. Danielle also shared more about PartyLine, a voiced based project by Dialup created around the 2020 US Elections, on the Build and Deploy Podcast.

Register for your free ticket here and send me a tweet @ecmoy to let me know what you’re thinking of building. See you there!

Bring Your Brilliance to the Creative Build-A-Thon!

At Twilio we believe that every person has an idea worth building and that "perfect" != "worthwhile".

If you have an inkling of an idea or want to connect with other creative folks, join us virtually on February 11–12 for the creative build-a-thon. We’ll equip you with everything you need to get started.

CODAME Rawthentic ART+TECH Build-A-Thon

Originally published at twilio.com by Liz Moy

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Promoting collaboration between artists and technologists.

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