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US Debut of John Marshall’s Whithervanes

Stamps Associate Professor John Marshall and Cézanne Charles, founders of the hybrid design studio rootoftwo, announced the US premiere of Whithervanes: a neurotic, early worrying system, a public project that aims to highlight the extent to which we are affected by data and news media. The project will be on view in three Miami locations through June 2018.


Commissioned by the non-profit exhibition space Locust Projects and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Whithervanes project plays with the form of the traditional barn-top weather vane. Featuring headless chicken sculptures installed on rooftops, rootoftwo’s Whithervanes are programmed to parse Reuters news reports, Department of Homeland Security threat levels, Twitter trends, and issues suggested by Miami residents. The chickens spin away from world news events and change color propelled by what Marshall describes as the “climate of fear on the Internet.”


Each of the Whithervanes receive the same news stories and has the same database of 911 keywords. However, the keywords are rated differently to reflect the values, priorities and themes developed from workshops with the public in Miami. This means that incoming stories generate different threat levels (1 Low - 5 Severe) and colors (green, blue, yellow, orange, red) across the network of Whithervanes. The public are invited to increase or decrease the ambient fear in the system by tweeting #skyfalling or #keepcalm to @whithervanes. Marshall and Charles say, “we are exploring the way that we receive and spread news through social media channels by having the audience make explicit and binary choices.”


Originally commissioned for the 2014 Folkestone Triennial, in Folkestone, England, the Whithervanes project is now a permanent part of the Folkestone Artworks collection. The Folkestone Whithervanes are rated for 55 mph wind, the Miami Whithervanes for 175 mph wind.

To learn more about the Whithervanes project, learn about the upcoming Whithervanes open hardware kit, and track the climate of fear in Miami, visit


Whithervanes received support from:

  • Locust Projects (Miami, FL);
  • Creative Foundation for Folkestone Triennial 2014 (UK);
  • John S. and James L. Knight Foundation;
  • Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design;
  • University of Michigan Office of Research;
  • EES Design, LLC (Fort Lauderdale, FL);
  • YetiWeurks Engineering, LLC (Denver, CO);
  • brightly interactive LLC (Grand Rapids, MI);
  • Invizio, LLC (Miami, FL);
  • Pulsar Light of Cambridge Ltd. (UK);
  • Design Core Detroit UNESCO Detroit City of Design Initiative;
  • Cité du Design (Saint-Etienne, France)
  • Centre des Arts (Enghien-les-Bains, France)
  • Phil Vander Veen and Travis Martin