VJ Um Amel: Remixed Visualizations

The first article I read was a piece on Vice’s website called “VJ Um Amel Remixes a Revolution” by Dylan Schenker. The article focuses on VJ Um Amel’s body of work that covered the revolution that occurred in Egypt in 2011. In the article it describes how hashtagged Twitter conversations were collected by the Twitter analytics site R-Shief, and how the information is then presented in a remixed visualization. Through this remixed visualization, the connection between key word is portrayed. From this remixed visualizations of the information, there is a narrative that can be gathered. Instead of trying to manipulate existing information into a story, it illustrates naturally occurring narratives. The article provides a link to the video of the project, which I found quite informative and gave me a clearer picture of the process described. In the video there are words shown, some larger than others in a kind of giant web. These words are illustrated with lines connecting them to other words and if one hovers over the words, not only is the amount of times that the word was tweeted shown, but it also presents how many times a word was used in conjunction with another on Twitter with this hashtag. The words that were represented larger on the visualization were the most commonly used words found in the tweets. What I found most interesting is that over 800,00 tweets were collected and then processed to give a visualization of what was occurring during this revolution. I feel the way this project works is similar to our discussion on the DC Guerrilla Insurgency; it’s not a matter of shoving facts and information down people’s throats to present an argument. No, the projects focuses on presenting the information and the connections they have , and individuals can observe these connections, piecing together the narrative of what is occurring for themselves. Just like the Guerrilla Poets, I feel this is an effective way at getting people interested in certain events, a far more enticing way for individuals to want to pursue the subject further than by just simply yelling at them with megaphones. Sure, spewing protests through a megaphone can be effective at getting people’s attention, but to truly get the involvement of those not immediately affected by the situation, it is important to find alternative ways to present the information.
Another article I found discussing VJ Um Amel was an interview conducted by Youmna Chala. One of the more interesting questions I found brought up was this question of how distance plays a role in Vj Um Amel’s works. Being an individual of mixed ethnicity I agree with the sentiment that it is hard to straddle two cultures. I am both Mexican and American so of course I find it extremely disappointing that my country decided to elect an individual whose main political platform was to build a wall between the borders of the U.S and Mexico. While the president mentions that it’s purpose is to halt drug trafficking across the border, I feel there are discriminatory undertones that cannot be avoided from this kind of statement. In a way this nation that was founded on the principle of immigration is taking a step backwards.




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