The Social Garden


Programmer for social media integration – Matthew Martin
Programmer for creating and animating plants – Jenna Gavin

For the Unison Light Trail at the Taupō winter festival, The Media on the Moon project was reiterated into a digital social garden. The intention of this installation was to nurture a level of connection between the voice of the Taupō community and the preservation and growth of the town’s natural environment. It gave the local community a way to share their thoughts about the town and the festival as well as interact with native plants without causing harm. Message makers were rewarded by planting a unique digital tree or plant for every message they inputted. Their vegetation would grow overtime and become part of the social garden. As the social conversation builds up, so does the liveliness of the digital garden.

The installation was on display for 9 days which by the end left a flourishing array of over 200 tress and plants. The work was constructed using Openframeworks in XCode and a twitter API addon. For more info on the code or technicalities please visit the twitter tab.

Twitter API


Covering a 5 meter wall along the local museum the projected messages were viewable from far away. Messages were delivered to the installation via Twitter on a person’s phone or by inputting into the local device located nearby. The submitter was given a choice for one of the seven plants by including one of these hashtags in their message:

  • #taupowinterfestival KOWHAI
  • #taupowinterfestival MANUKA
  • #taupowinterfestival HARAKEKE
  • #taupowinterfestival TAWHAI
  • #taupowinterfestival KOHUHU
  • #taupowinterfestival KAIKAWAKA
  • #taupowinterfestival HOROEKA

Each plant was programmed to resemble their real counterpart and grow in a similar way. The plants were designed to all be unique in form and had many possible variations in growth, branches, spread and colour. As seen in the video below, a message would burst out of a new planted tree and animate from spore objects to the center of the screen. The new tree grows slowly but eventually makes its way to the background where it joins all the other user-created trees.