Buzzworthy: Houseflies can now tweet

That Twitter account's so fly! It records the musings of a bunch of houseflies that fly over a keyboard and trigger its keys to send tweets.

David Bowen
Life inside the flies' tweetdome. The flies are currently tweeting from a museum in Seoul, South Korea. Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

Anyone out there speak fly? Because I'd really like to know what these houseflies were saying when they tweeted the following last week:

``F`CZHGF`CZHGF`XZHGFDS`XZHFDS`XZHFDS`ZFD`ZFD`ZHGFD`HGFD`HGFD`HGF` HGF`HGF`HF`HF`HF``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````

The flies have joined the social-networking masses thanks to artist David Bowen, who created fly tweet, a device that sends tweets based on the activities of a colony of houseflies with too much time on their wings. The flies live and tweet inside an acrylic sphere that also contains a computer keyboard.

As the insects fly over the keyboard keys, their subtle movements trigger not-so-subtle tweets (really, flies, tweeting in all caps? Not cool). When the little buggers hit 140 characters or trigger the "Enter" key, the message is tweeted to the account @flycolony, which as of this writing has sent more than 71,700 tweets.

"These constantly accumulating messages appear as records of random activity within the larger sphere of social media and networking," Bowen, a creator of kinetic, robotic, and interactive sculptures, says on his site.

The Minnesota-based artist opted for flies as his tweeting insect, he told Crave, because in large numbers they produce dynamic movements with varying density. "They are fascinating to watch," he said. "Also, the notion of Twitter messages being sent from a swarm of houseflies is quite absurd."

The tweets aren't quite as revealing as I would hope (where else am I going to go for my insect gossip?), but that doesn't make them any less enlightening.

The latest tweet, for example, a lone number 5, is clearly a nuanced analysis of the five-point plan referenced by Mitt Romney in last night's presidential debate . My CNET colleague Eric Mack noted the repetition of the characters S, W, and 2 in a number of the flies' tweets and thinks our many-eyed friends might be conveying secrets of the Mayan 2012 end-of-world prophecy.

Crave previously wrote about Bowen's "Tele-present Water" installation , which is basically a marionette system with a mesh of tubes that move like a wave while suspended in midair. The "puppeteer," as it were, is an overhead control system that pulls cables up or lets them fall to mimic the ocean.

Bowen will display Flytweet next month at the KIBLA Multimedia Centre in Maribor, Slovenia, where the flies will presumably be polite enough to tweet in the local tongue.

fly tweet from david bowen on Vimeo.

Update, October 18 at 3:45 p.m. PT:: to include additional comments from the artist.

 

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