I’m glad you have reached this point through the noise. The below is the short version of a much longer practice-led research project Is it?, due to this I will attempt to be as linear and chronological as possible.For the past year or so I have been trying to understand coincidence as a phenomenon at London College of Communication. Now, this is notably odd for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most pertinent being that, similar to mathematics, graphic design is seen by many as a problem solving profession. As discovered when I began trying to trace the roots of coincidences, through observing, mapping, logging, collecting, defining… coincidence is a slippery and complex subject matter, one that cannot be neatly solved. At this point in the project I began using coincidence as a methodology, by setting up scenarios open to chance and random algorithms. All of this time I was ignoring a key way in which the word coincidence is being used today. I was, and still am, drawn to this recent video of Congressman Adam Schiff – I suspect some of you may have seen this. Without going into too much detail, the video captures how Adam Schiff, a Democrat sat on the House Intelligence Committee for the Comey hearing, persuasively framed his argument through coincidence. Of course, the answers to his rhetorical questions or false dilemmas are no – these are not coincidences at all. After watching this video, I started to log all occurrences of this phrase, ‘Is it a coincidence that...?’, from the President of the United States of America’s favourite communication medium, Twitter. As seen by the two examples here…
@ZacheryMantis – Is it a coincidence that the One Leader, to bring us out of Hell? Happens to have a last name "Trump"? No! Because he Trumps everything, Anything, and Anyone that stands in his way of (Bringing America) back to good.. Period! Nuff said. ID 1088
@shackmom – Is it just a coincidence, that Trump plans to meet with Rod Rosenstein, on Thursday? The same day that, Christine Blasey Ford, is scheduled to testify in front of the Judiciary Committee. #stayfocused #Trumpdistracts ID 1449
...the log captures a wide variety of opinions, theories, thoughts, reactions and responses, on such a range of things, from the socio-political to weird and wonderful personal ponderings – all stemming from this phrase alone.
For now, the log is public through this online space, which continues to be updated by the Twitter community and operates as a live and searchable digital archive. The other half of this project is printed logbooks, which through ordering and indexing of the tweets, invite the reader to investigate the mass of digital communication and argumentation emerging from coincidence. These are also printed to form a back-up, as storing these collections online like this, is increasingly risky. API policies, which allow access to this information, are constantly shifting or being monetized.
As evidenced ‘Is it a coincidence that…?’ creates a false dilemma in which only two options are presented: is it a coincidence that, or is it this. This is a persuasive form of communication, which relies on the confusion and lack of clarity associated with the phenomenon of coincidence. No matter how frivolous some of the logged tweets on this website are, ‘Is it a coincidence that…?’, is often followed by an attempt to make the reader see things from the author’s point of view.
This website will continue to stream and log tweets daily, thanks to Matthew Luke. The soundscape on this website was made in conversation with musician Alec Howlett. Using a mixture of voices from references, transcribed videos and tweets – the order In which they appear in the score is as follows:
- Hayakawa, S. I. (1939) Language in Thought and Action. Rev. edn. London: George Allen & Unwin LTD, 1974, p. 55.
- @shackmom. (2018) [Twitter] 24th September. Available at: twitter.com/shackmom/status/1044302786148491264 ID 1449
- Rhodan, M. (2017) ‘Read Rep. Adam Schiff's Opening Statement on Russian Meddling in the Election’, Time, 20 March. Available at: time.com/4706721/comey-hearing-adam-schiff-transcript/ (Accessed: 29 March 2018).
- Walker Art Center (2018) Insights 2018: Paul Soulellis, Counterpractice, Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEq2rghe41c (Accessed: 3rd October 2018.)
- @lawson22. (2018) [Twitter] 20th August. Available at: twitter.com/TheDweck/status/1031211527959793665, ID 3.
- Marsh, G. P. (1860) Lectures on the English Language. New York: Charles Scribner, p. 272.
- Basar, S., Coupland, D. and Obrist, H.U. (2015). The Age of Earthquakes. London: Penguin Books, pp. 48-49.