Blow out (and about) // A tale of One Hundred & Forty Characters…

In July 2010 Chris Floyd started shooting people he followed on Twitter. With a camera, that is. Not a sawn-off shotgun or something. It wasn’t some sort of bloody social media massacre. He isn’t a murderer. He’s a photographer, and a pretty good one at that. Well, The Sunday Times Magazine, Guardian Weekend Magazine, Esquire, GQ, The New Yorker, and Wallpaper* seem to think he’s okay at it.

140 characters

Anyway. He came up with the idea upon realising he hadn’t seen or spoken to any of his best ‘real life’ friends for ages, yet engaged with people – strangers – on Twitter on a daily basis. Most of these people he’d never met.

Chris photographed people from Twitter on a casual basis for about a year until one day, after counting up the subjects to date and arriving at a number in the mid one hundred and thirties, he knew exactly how he’d wrap it up. And thus: One Hundred & Forty Characters was born (140 characters in a Tweet, yeah? Do try and keep up).

Never one to say no to a photo posing opportunity (and a follower of Chris thanks to a recommendation by that PoppyD), I of course made sure I got involved – my shoot somehow went a bit Austin Powers). So when I found out that my Portwit was going to go on display as part of an exhibition showcasing the project, I bullied Chris into telling us more…

What do you do, then?
I am a photographer and, latterly, a film maker too.

How did One Hundred & Forty Characters come about?
I realised that I was communicating with people I followed on Twitter more than my real friends, yet I had never met any of these people. I thought it best to at least try and get them in the same room as me.

And now an exhibition? Oooh! Tell us more.
It’s running from 3 November to 17 November at Host Gallery, 1 Honduras Street, London EC1: www.foto8.com

How did it feel, meeting your virtual friends in real life?
It was exciting, scary, fun, silly and ultimately revealing in the fact that everyone really has the same fears and hopes as everybody else.

Were most people as you’d expected? Or any shockers/surprises?
Well, over the course of several thousand tweets people reveal themselves as they really are. So there weren’t any big surprises. Apart from initial physical shyness, 95% of them turned out to be pretty much like how they are on Twitter.


My shoot (above) was the best. Right? Any, er, special memories of that sesh?
You were WELL tardy. But when you arrived, even though it was late in the day, you leapt about the place like a newly hatched swan.

Any follow-up projects in the pipeline?
I’m doing something similar for Wallpaper* & Christie’s that was inspired by 140 Characters at the Multiplied Art Fair from 14-17th October: www.wallpaper.com


I’ve also got got a Twitter panel discussion night that is set to be a right laugh. It’s called Twight Night and it’s on the 7th November in central London.
We’ve got Grace Dent, Alexis Petridis, Poppy Dinsey, Steve Furst, Rhodri Marsden and Michael Holden – all gold standard Twitter names. It’s a free event. We’ll be sitting around talking about Twitter and it will be LOLtastic. And there’ll be a Q&A to follow with a bar and all that too.
To find out more go to 100fortycharacters.com – if you’d like to come then email your interest to twight.night@gmail.com

What’s next for you?
I’ve been doing more films lately. Still doing stills but film is getting bigger. Some more for Mr Porter and also for Agent Provocateur.

Want to recommend anyone on Twitter that we should follow?
So many, so many. Just looking at my timeline…

Any annoying Twitter traits you see that drive you mad?
Bad grammar, Americanisms when used by British people and lazy English. Language is the most powerful tool we have. Use it with respect and be precise. Heaven knows, we have enough words to make that possible.

Chris Floyd // One Hundred & Forty Characters
3 – 17 November 2011 @ HOST Gallery

For more info on all things One Hundred & Forty Characters, visit the website 100fortycharacters.com – and look out for the insightful/hilarious/moving/interesting ‘Character of the Day’ posts…

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