The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 Hours in Kyiv

The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 Hours in Kyiv,” co-authors: Jay Chow, Lev Manovich, and Mehrdad Yazdani. Paper presented at the Big Humanities Data Workshop, The Second IEEE Big Data 2014 Conference, Washington, DC, October 27, 2014. This version of the paper is published in IEEE Big Data 2014 Conference Proceedings (2014), 77-84.

This paper presents and discusses some the findings of the research project The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 Hours in Kyiv (2014) which I co-authored with Lev Manovich, Mehrdad Yazdani, and Jay Chow.

Abstract:

How can we use computational analysis and visualization of content and interactions on social media network to write histories? Traditionally, historical timelines of social and political upheavals give us only distant views of the events, and singular interpretation of a person constructing the timeline. However, using social media as our source, we can potentially present many thousands of individual views of the events. We can also include representation of the everyday life next to the accounts of the exceptional events. This paper explores these ideas using a particular case study – images shared by people in Kyiv on Instagram during 2014 Ukrainian Revolution. Using Instagram public API we collected 13208 geo-coded images shared by 6165 Instagram users in the central part of Kyiv during February 17-22, 2014. We used open source and our own custom software tools to analyze the images along with upload dates and times, geo locations, and tags, and visualize them in different ways.

See also my essay "Iconography of the Revolution" on the website of the project.  In this essay, my research question is: What is the visual grammar of a revolution? In order to grasp the characteristics of the images related to the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution on social media, I suggest we look back at some of the most iconic depictions of similar events such as the social upheavals in the streets of Paris in 1848, 1871, and 1968. 

 Thibault.  Barricades on Rue Saint-Maur, June 25, 1848 . Paris, 1848.

Thibault. Barricades on Rue Saint-Maur, June 25, 1848. Paris, 1848.

 Pierre-Ambroise Richebourg.  Barricades of the Paris Commune Near Hôtel de Ville and the Rue de Rivoli.  April 1871, Paris

Pierre-Ambroise Richebourg. Barricades of the Paris Commune Near Hôtel de Ville and the Rue de Rivoli. April 1871, Paris

 Gilles Caron.  Protest in Rue Saint-Jacques.  Paris, May 6, 1968.

Gilles Caron. Protest in Rue Saint-Jacques. Paris, May 6, 1968.

 Montage of Instagram images depicting the barricades in Kyiv, 2014. See more images and analysis  on the project website .

Montage of Instagram images depicting the barricades in Kyiv, 2014. See more images and analysis on the project website.