Crowdsourcing: The art of a crowd
Crowdsourced art, also known as wiki-art, erases the line between artist and audience.
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Assignments ranged from the quirky, like "make an encouraging banner" (sample response: "SHINE ON!"), to the serious: "Spend a day with a dying person." Responses were published in a book with a cover photograph of two seniors kissing (assignment: "Take a picture of your parents kissing"). "The idea that, as an artist, you embrace the public in a creative and productive way," Mr. Frieling says, "is expressed by that picture."Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures The art of the crowd
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Ms. Grover says the project was "very generative, a hallmark of a good crowdsourced work. The idea was to inspire some kind of universal understanding or humanistic quality through the assignments."
Mr. Fletcher, associate professor of art and social practice at Portland State University in Oregon, co-originator of the work, says, "It was a system of creating empathy through these projects and seeing other people's responses." He says his goal is to "be inclusive of people rather than expecting them to be an audience and appreciator of what I do."
In "Never Been to Tehran," Jon Rubin and Grover solicited collaborators to take photos of what they imagined Tehran to be like and submit them to a photo-sharing site. The images were projected in gallery exhibitions in seven countries, including Iran. "The idea was to create an empathic relation to a place we've never been," Mr. Rubin says, "to think about how – even though we have access to reams of information – there's still ignorance due to the difference between secondhand and firsthand experience."
Rubin and Dawn Weleski conceived a project called Conflict Kitchen, a takeout restaurant in Pittsburgh that serves food from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Customers get a spiced ground-meat sandwich (typical Iranian fare) wrapped in paper printed with words gleaned from interviews with Iranians about the current political turmoil, Persian poetry, etc. Food for thought, indeed. Diners are encouraged to share their thoughts so that, with their takeout meal, they take in art.
Yoko Ono's "Wish Tree," recently shown at New York's Museum of Modern Art, is another example of participatory art. Her instructions encourage people to write wishes and hang them on a tree. Of the more than 120,000 scribbled wishes, Christophe Cherix, chief curator of prints and illustrated books, says, "People had a very generous vision and basically wished things for the common good."