I noticed today (via AFC) that there’s an On Kawara Twitter account which announces “I AM STILL ALIVE #art” every day. Then I noticed that the announcement is made every day at 11:55 AM, and that it is posted via a Perl script (Perl Net::Twitter). As it happens, last night I was flipping through , and I came across On Kawara’s postcard project, in which he sent the time he woke up each day stamped on postcards (this went on for 4 months):

Nov – 1 1969 I got up at 4.28 P.M.
Nov – 2 1969 I got up at 3.13 P.M.
Nov – 3 1969 I got up at 1.15 P.M.

Given the personal nature of this work, I figured either this isn’t On Kawara’s Twitter account or he is seriously changing up his working methods. A Google search later, I find the confession:

The conceptual artist On Kawara has 101 followers on twitter at the time of this writing. I have only 20-something. But I am On Kawara on twitter. Or rather, On Kawara on twitter is a Perl script that gets automatically run once a day on a server in a cabinet in my living room. I haven’t done anything to publicize his activities on twitter. All he does is announce, “I AM STILL ALIVE” once a day. He doesn’t follow anyone. Yet, somehow, it seeped out into the twitter community. The “Perl Net::Twitter” client name should be a dead give away.

The interesting thing about this (and my original reason for launching it) is that it blatantly negates the whole idea behind On Kawara’s “I AM STILL ALIVE” messages. Whereas those did indeed confirm that he was still alive, this doesn’t. It’s an automated process that he doesn’t even control. Were he to die, he would continue to announce “I AM STILL ALIVE”, everday, on twitter. So it really does two things; by falsely confirming that he is alive, it casts doubt on the issue but it also keeps the notion of him actively announcing that he is alive, alive.