Status Symbols: A Study in Tweets

Lori Hepner


Status Symbols is a series of virtual portraits that are studies of identity in the digital age of social media. Textual updates on sites such as Twitter and Facebook allow for virtual personas to be created with the prodding of, “What are you doing?” or “What’s on your mind?” at the direction of the social networks. Status Symbols showcases the virtual identities created from these self-scripted self-portraits. Abstract portraits are created with spinning LEDs that translate written words into flashing bursts of light in the computer’s language of binary code. Custom hardware and software are used to transform the text into ons and offs of binary code. Each portrait represents a fleeting moment of identity in the digital world.

The conceptual basis for the project is based upon current events related to digital identity as seen through Twitter posts. Collaborative portraits were made as a part of the @1stfans Twitter Art feed at the Brooklyn Museum in December 2010. The series also looks at portraiture through online updates from people who have larger than single-person identities, such as @BarackObama and @Britneyspears in addition to asking for the #status of everyday people.

Commissioned Twitter Portraits start at $275 for an 8" x 8" print, edition of 1 (+ 1 AP for the artist). Prices increase for sizes up to 32" x 32". Contact Lori via email, Lori.Hepner [at] for a quote.