Twitter Jay and the Recyclists


JHU students organized the first Hopkins team entry in the world-renowned Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race. Complying with stringent race requirements, student engineers and artists collaborated to create a human-powered sculpture to compete in an all-terrain race that traverses sand, mud and water. Twitter Jay, the team’s entry, represents the best of JHU’s values by combining cutting-edge technology with recycled and natural materials in homage to the school’s ‘Blue Jay’ mascot.

Twitter Jay was wired with GPS, web cams, a scrolling LED sign board and laptop so that its progress could be followed on race day, Saturday May 2, 2009. Fans were able to communicate with the sculpture (and the rest of the crowd) by texting and ‘tweeting’ messages to Twitter Jay. The response was warm, the day was wet and the bicycles that formed the base of the structure were undersized, resulting in the team carrying Twitter jay through most of the course and earning the coveted ‘Golden Dinosaur’ award.

Despite structural challenges, the technological aspects of Twitter Jay, funded by a DMC Creative Use of Technology Grant, performed superbly. “Twitter Jay is easily the most technologically advanced sculpture we’ve ever had,” noted a race coordinator. “This truly is a first for us. It raises our bar.” In addition to the DMC grant, the debut team was supported by JHU’s Program in Museums and Society and funding from the Provost’s Arts Innovation Grant.

JHU students ride Twitter Jay sculpture into Inner Harbor
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