ANU artist inspired by abusive tweets from politicians
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ANU artist inspired by abusive tweets from politicians

A politician's rare moment of madness will typically make it on the nightly news and the paper's front page.

But it is not often their slip-ups are immortalised as works of art that grace the gallery wall.

The bullets carry some of the vitriol flying around on social media in the build-up to the federal election.

The bullets carry some of the vitriol flying around on social media in the build-up to the federal election. Credit:Stuart Hay ANU

ANU artist Jen Fullerton has created a stunning series of sculptures based on abusive tweets sent in the build-up to the federal election.

The PhD candidate said she was shocked by both the level of abuse sent to politicians, and the level of abuse the politicians sent back.

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Jen Fullerton (left) and Dr Rob Ackland (right) collaborated on the project.

Jen Fullerton (left) and Dr Rob Ackland (right) collaborated on the project. Credit:Stuart Hay ANU

"I couldn't believe the amount of anger that was out there, it's just incredible," she said.

"It goes very quickly from a very simple conversation to firing up.

"Part of what was so shocking is that some of the comments coming back from the politicians were just as abusive."

Ms Fullerton created the works with the help of social scientist Dr Robert Ackland as a part of ANU's Vice-Chancellor's College Artist Fellows Scheme.

Dr Ackland has recently been undertaking a mammoth data-crunching project analysing the Twitter activity of Australian politicians.

To create her sculptures, Ms Fullerton drew on almost 700 abusive tweets collated by Dr Ackland.

"Access to this data has given me the opportunity to discuss the use of abusive language on social media as a new and accepted form of public discourse," Ms Fullerton said.

"[It's] like a digital version of toilet door graffiti, with users eagerly slandering and defaming public figures."

One of the resulting works, We the people: Shooting from the hip, uses ammunition belts to symbolise the vitriol flying around on social media.

"The number of bullets in each belt corresponds to the number of abusive tweets aimed at Australian politicians on that day," Ms Fullerton said.

"The words embossed on each bullet holder are the abusive words that were contained in each tweet."

Ms Fullerton's works are on display at the ANU School of Art & Design Foyer Gallery.

Steven Trask is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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