Students walking into Hawthorne-Longfellow Library this Monday may have been surprised to see a new installation involving music, water columns and chimes. 

The new public art installation, “#Carbonfeed,” created by artists John Park and Jon Bellona was designed to show how online behavior is directly connected to the physical world.

“#CarbonFeed” uses tweets from Twitter users around the world in real time. Based on a customized set of hashtags, the work responds to incoming tweets, which generate a real-time sonic composition. A visual counterpart, consisting of compressed air being pumped through tubes of water, provides a physical representation of each virtual tweet.

“We hope that the project will help viewers understand that there is a physical infrastructure supporting their online behavior. We are still amazed when we see a viewer recognize this fact, and say things like ‘I had no idea my online use generates carbon,’” Jon Bellona said in an email to the Orient.

For each tweet, an estimated 0.02 grams of carbon dioxide is released. While at first this may seem like a small number, when this is multiplied by 200 billion tweets per year, the released carbon adds up. This piece aims to reveal the physical environmental costs of online actions.

“It’s been cool to watch. A lot of students have stopped to look at the exhibit on their way to study. I don’t think they expected it to be in the library,” said Meredith Outterson ’17, who works at the library. “Overall, I think it’s a pretty positive installation. I think it’s positive to raise awareness that tweets have a carbon footprint. I think that’s something not a lot of people are aware of.”  

Other students felt something was missing from the installation.

“I don’t understand why the focus is just on Twitter, I feel like there are so many social media platforms that are also used,” said Molly Stevens ’15.

Bellona and Park focused on the interdisciplinary nature of the installation project.

“I think ‘#Carbonfeed’ provides an entry point for so many disciplines and viewers. You may approach this project from social media, science, environmental studies, music, physics, business or just plain wonderment of curiosity,” said Jon Bellona. “Art can provide a platform for thought and discussion that may reach across boundaries. I like that about this project.”

Bellona and Park have hope for further progress in prompting action, not just awareness.
“Once we can acknowledge and understand that our virtual behavior is grounded in reality and has an associated carbon cost, we may begin to have larger conversations,” said Jon Bellona. 

“Today, 1.3% of all the world’s electricity is solely being used to power data centers to support our online computing” wrote Twitter designer David Bellona in an email to the Orient. Bellona is the elder brother of creator Jon Bellona.

To learn more about “#Carbonfeed,” visit or watch “The Weight of Digital Behavior” on Vimeo.