Crowdsourcing: The art of a crowd
Crowdsourced art, also known as wiki-art, erases the line between artist and audience.
(Page 3 of 3)
Ms. Ono's art, he adds, is "about how we can change the world and have a positive impact." The success of this public dialogue depends on the experience engendered in the viewer. "The work is not better because it's participatory," Mr. Cherix says. "What you take out of the work is what makes the work."Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures The art of the crowd
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
One form of collective art involving actual painting was conceived by Tunisian artist Hechimi Ghachem in the 1980s. When the Connecticut-based painter David Black went to Tunis in 2008 and learned the system called Tunisian Collaborative Painting, he became a convert and now preaches its virtues in the US.
Teaching 10 workshops to 125 painters recently at New York's Art Students League, Mr. Black coached students, with four artists working on a single canvas without a preconceived design, to produce a finished work together. "You give up your ego. You give up ownership. The actual painting is greater than the sum of its parts," Black explains. "In a strange and marvelous way, it's in tune with what's happening today on the Internet."
While some might see wiki-art as outsourcing the artist's unique vision to a mob of amateurs, Mr. Szott disagrees: "One person's 'dumbing down' is another person's 'making it acces-sible.' " According to Ms. Butler, "It's actually 'smartening up.' Participatory art becomes more conceptual, less craft-driven, and more idea-driven. It speaks to you intellectually."
It also can inspire creativity in people who might never dabble in art. "If we open the public to the nature of the creative process and allow them opportunities to experience it, a great humanistic service will have been done," says Ramona Austin, curator of the Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. Yet she cautions against under-valuing experts who have attained mastery of their craft: "It's important not to invest in the anti-intellectualism that runs through our society."
Other drawbacks are cloudy issues of intellectual property and authorship. "Something's being given away free, but someone is profiting," Purves says. "Genius is traded for other people's creativity and time and inspiration. If what the public produces is 50 times more interesting than what the artist puts into it, it creates an imbalance."
"Like any tool, it's as smart as the person using it," Grover says. Without a strong structure, the result can be chaotic, mediocre, or trivial.
In this new paradigm, the artist's role is more curator than creator. "An artist has to set up the basic framework with tremendous skill and thought and then, with great generosity of spirit, let it go for others to come in and transform it," Austin says. "Generosity of spirit motivates the best of these encounters."