Crowdsourced Art: When the Masses Play Nice


It’s good to remember that the internet can be used for collaborative projects beyond just Wikipedia or flash mobs. Thanks to crowdsourcing, artists don’t have to suffer alone in their studios with cans full of paint and empty canvases if they don’t want to. Now they can go online and ask everybody for help. Whether crowdsourced art grows into a prevalent method of expression, or, as one critic worries, becomes a form of “digital serfdom,” when millions of individuals from around the world contribute to a work, the work can be as diverse as the individual contributors.

Sample the best crowdsourced art we’ve come across after the jump.

1. White Glove Tracking: People across the web digitally captured, then modified, Michael Jackson’s white glove in all 10,060 frames of a televised performance of “Billy Jean.” Now you can watch the late King of Pop sing the same song with an ever-changing glove.

2. Ten Thousand Cents: Artist Aaron Koblin paid 10,000 individuals one cent each to paint a small, abstract picture. Without knowing it, together they painted a $100 bill. Similar works by Koblin include The Sheep Market and The Johnny Cash Project.

3. Zoomquilt II: From the makers of Zoomquilt comes the second vertigo-inducing installment, which takes the viewer on an endless trip through 88 surreal images. Do not watch while driving.

4. The Unofficial Thomas Pynchon Guide to Los Angeles: If you’re a fan of American novelist, Thomas Pynchon, science fiction, Los Angeles, infographics or trivia, you should check this out. Wired Magazine put together an interactive map that includes all of the above.

5. Learning to Love You More: When artists Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher asked the general public to complete some creative assignments, the general public responded. The website contains 70 projects, including #58: Record the sound that is keeping you awake, #50: Take a flash photo under your bed, and #30: Take a picture of strangers holding hands.

6. SwarmSketch: Normally, drawing a line over some else’s picture is considered vandalism; on SwarmSketch, it’s encouraged. Each week the website randomly selects a topic for users to draw collectively. A new picture begins after either one thousand lines have been drawn or the week comes to an end. Another version of this is Wikipainting.

7. Allmylifeforsale: One day John Freyer decided to sell all his possessions via eBay, including an opened box of taco shells, half a bottle of mouthwash and even his sideburns, which were shaved off and stored in a plastic bag. Once everything was sold, he set out to meet all the people who bought his stuff. The project resulted in a book that the website describes as “part autobiography, part travelogue, and part cultural commentary.”

8. The Million Dollar Homepage: Although not art in the conventional sense — unless you consider advertisers artists — the webpage is a result of group effort. In order to pay for university, Alex Tew sold 1,000,000 pixels for one dollar each to companies who, in turn, hope you click on their link amongst the cluster of logos and images. Fun fact: if you have the time, you can find Waldo hiding somewhere in the graphic.