Ever since Donald Trump took office, Twitter has become a source of trepidation for many Americans. Unlike his predecessors, Trump has been known to abruptly announce major policy decisions and derail international relations with an unexpected barrage of tweets. It's become such a common practice, in fact, that a French artist created a "Political Lamp" to warn you in real time whenever the president tweets something new. Presumably, this is so you can stay off Twitter until you feel emotionally prepared to face whatever fresh bigotry is in store.
In an article on Bored Panda, creator ParseError explained that the lamp is connected to the Internet, allowing it to react in real time when a new tweet is posted. It's a clever idea, made cleverer by the fact the reaction itself: With each post, the cloud lamp stirs into a thunderstorm. "Each tweet is then materialized by a series of lightnings, rolling in the cloud and disturbing the soft light of the lamp," Parse/Error wrote.
Given the turmoil associated with most of the president's tweets in the last nine months, it's an appropriate visual metaphor. On his website, Parse/Error laid out his reasons for choosing Trump as the impetus for the storm.
"The choice of setting the Political Lamp to follow the tweets of Donald Trump is explained by the fact that he perfectly embodies a dangerous era, beyond the notion of idiocracy, popularized by the movie of the same name. A world where the words of one man, released without reflection and with spontaneity on a global social network, can endanger the fate of millions by spreading the ghost of nuclear war on the planet."
The lamp normally glows a soft blue, but when Trump posts a tweet, it darkens while lightning flashes across the clouds.
Like it or not, Trump's tweets truly do have the ability to shake up domestic policy as well as international relations. In July, he shocked the entire country by announcing on Twitter, without any warning, a ban on transgender individuals serving "in any capacity" in the military. It appeared the Pentagon was as surprised as everyone else, and over the next few weeks, numerous military officials opposed the ban openly. Despite widespread opposition, however, the ban has slowly moved forward.
Then there's the president's current public relations war with North Korea. In late September, Trump referred to the country's leader as a "Little Rocket Man" in a vaguely threatening tweet predicting the end of North Korean leadership. Since then, rhetoric between Trump and Kim Jong Un has become increasingly heated. Most recently, Trump tweeted that "only one thing will work!" with the country, causing some to worry about the possibility of military action.
But in the same way that he isn't the only unstable politician to lead a country, Trump isn't the only setting for the Political Lamp. The lamp can be set to react to tweets posted by members of the Front National (FN) party, a far-right French political party whose leader recently won a seat in parliament for the first time. According to Parse/Error's website, this symbolizes the "current rise of intolerance."
The French artist has also designed a similar lamp in the past. Connected to data from the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, the Earthquake Lamp reacts to earthquakes around the world with pulses of light and sound, which vary with the magnitude of the quake. It's apolitical, but Parse/Error writes that the two lamps are similar in purpose.
"The idea of [each lamp] is to hide its true nature behind a beautiful object, which immediately modifies the observer’s behavior when its purpose is revealed, causing anxiety and fascination," reads the website.
Anxiety and fascination? I would say that sums up modern politics perfectly. If you're interested, you can check out Parse/Error's portfolio online.