Credit for videos: Matea Friend, Angaea, Hyesoo Shin

ADULTING (Hashtag Adulting) is a site-specific interactive art installation that creates a virtual world in a real space for audiences to experience one of the most popular hashtags of the present time, #adulting. It projects both real-time and collected content from social media that is determined by the hashtag

Like entering into an adulthood,

at first glance, the room is filled with darkness with only the playhouse in the middle. There are colorful lines of arrows on the floor, pointing inside the toy house. There is no sign guiding the audience. This leaves the room with an air of suspiciousness, giving space for those who use their curiosity and explore the almost-emptiness with confidence. And only if they are brave enough and crawl into the little house that is when the live portals light up.

Upon entering the house, the darkness vanishes, replaced by massive-scale social media content in the form of graphic that mimics a playhouse’s window shapes. At every moment, the content includes a video from YouTube, a text from Twitter, an image from Tumblr or Instagram, and a gif sticker from Giphy that floats around await for the occupant to use, manipulate, project and perceive them.

“Everything inside links to something outside. Perhaps adulthood is more complicated than before. And we just live in the time of suggestions and opinion blast.

The viewer in the house is now the social media user, and the rest of us are like observers in the space of Internet data. We perceive information that the user selects and we interact with it directly or indirectly. Some people also try to fit into the house more than one at a time. Some may comment and state their opinion on things. The chaos of the interaction is also an important facet. No one knows how to control things, just as no one knows exactly how and when they can determine themself as an adult of this modern society.

There are tons of conditions and tasks to be completed as we grow up, from small things like organizing a refrigerator to larger tasks like keeping track of bills or building up credit scores. Complaining about everyday life routines is also a part of the experience. Everyone does grocery shopping and laundry, making these good activities to share about on social media platforms if you do them too, so that your connections know you are an adult. Perhaps this is why we need social media gurus in our current time: to tell us how to be an adult. Things are not as simple anymore… or may be they never truly have been and will never be.

To experience some videos that categorized as “adulting” content from YouTube. Here is a link, for example. These video are examples of what content the videos are playing on the huge wall. However, each video in the selection is edited into a shorten version.

Interaction Design

Because exploration is part of becoming an adult, no instruction is given to the viewer.

However, spending time inside the tiny pavilion would not be hard to figure out these user interfaces as they are customized from toys and functioned as a social media controller.

  • Scroll through Twitter’s #Adulting, which is refreshed every 1 minutes.
  • Scroll though Tumblr’s #Adulting pictures.
  • Switch between photo catalogs on Tumblr and Instagram.
  • Scroll though Instagram’s #Adulting pictures.
  • Play and pause a YouTube video in a playlist.
  • Select a Gif sticker related to #Adulting from the storage of Giphy.
  • Freely Stamp Gif sticker all over the place including on a playhouse and floor.
  • Change the music of the installation
  • Play and pause the music
  • Play flashing colorful lights and glitching tweets around the whole environment.

photographer: Eli Joteva

Live Twitter Examples

People can join the conversation by posting pictures or tweeting with #adulting on the chosen platforms that are present in the installation. Their posts will eventually show up and become part of the installation’s world.

Gif stickerExamples

photographer: Eli Joteva

#Adulting is about the moment of perceiving and experiencing the juxtaposition between digital media and real life on when it comes to perspectives on adulthood.  While someone in the house is learning, we see how they choose things and decorate their life.

…And, once the user leaves the place, everything is shut down. Presented data become void. Everyone is hanging out in the waiting room for a new brave adult to arrive.



The hashtag system, a phenomenon of social media invention, is not only used to categorize pictures, but nowadays reflects how people of the digital generation organize their content, express feelings, and interact with the public. This particular hashtag– adulting– which is another creation of social media, shows the concord of how people, especially generation Y (Millennials) and Z, see their adulthood, life philosophies, and how they actually live their lives. “Adult” as the noun we used to know has taken on a new form as a verb, with many meanings to cogitate from outmost shell to kernel. Since this subject is broad enough for interpretation, every social media platform has its users produce content related to it.

We can see these interpretations through seriousness, bragging, jokes, sarcasm, or made-up posts about daily routines or ordinary life tasks, if any parts of those themes relate to a thing called “responsibility”. (We also see use of the hashtag with content that is seemingly unrelated to the concept of “adulting,” but somehow contains an inside joke, or the use is simply a way to take advantage of a popular hashtag when posting completely irrelevant content.) The digital world has echoed an interesting point about how people now live and learn, and about intergenerational differences. As a social media user (and part of a younger generation, if you are under 30)

you will face many chaotic and miscellaneous tasks to complete in your life as you grow up. There is no absolutely right or wrong way to get through them, but your friends might find some shortcuts that you may also want to know. There will be several doors for you to open and options for you to select in every corner of your life from making a grocery list to moving in with your partner. The process of learning to be an adult in this new world is confusing. People from different places and sources will try to tell you what to do but there is only you who can control your life.

Developing Process

There was many various possibilities that had been in consideration before the idea is concluded into an immersive installation. Below is a video of 3D model of a prototyping installation to test multiple customized interface and YouTube video contents.

After testing on model, I’ve tested equipments with a nearly- identical scale of the space that this project will be installed.

Finally, the project is developed into the final state where social media contents have been carefully selected and curated, as well as visual effects and how the viewers will participate in the installation. There are several changes in this project since the beginning until the final product. An estimate of the development time is 7 months.


Press/ Research Mentions

Lin, Hsiu-Man. “Hashtag on Social Platforms: How Do Hashtag Change the Way We Talk?.” March, 2019. https://hsiumanlin.wordpress.com/hashtag-on-social-platforms/

Published by Tuang Studio

Interactive artist, experiential designer, and curator

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