Almost a year ago, I set out on an art/science experiment to see what would happen when individuals were each given one small piece of a mosaic. In our lives as citizens and consumers we are often asked to contribute one small piece to a system that cannot possibly appreciate our one small contribution. When we vote, when we boycott, or when we litter it is hard to see that one small action as having any effect. This can be liberating, it can be frustrating. We can try to take control of the chaos and lead others towards greater impact, we can seek to follow the missions of others, or just try to ignore anything but out own little piece.
My attempt to embody these emotions in a representative work of art is represented in the original post from June 2010
At the time i was hoping for order to emerge. I was hoping for patterns for constellations, for clusters, but there was no gravity in this social nebula. Committed to repeat the experiment I revisited it this summer with a plan. I would start with a seed design for each participant fo grow from. We would see how this initial pattern might impact a general design. It worked, a little two well at times.
– leading perhaps to a truss, but my lines were not quote straight. Immediately my audience saw a “jesus fish” when turned one way (or lady parts as few admitted when turned the other way). This initial reaction lead to accepting of the image and an eagerness to contribute, or a rejection of the image and a refusal to participate in the activity at all, or the placement of a sticker in a non-contributing area.
As participation accumulated the fish was lost, but general line continuation did form. Again, random placement took hold but there were no second order shapes. It seemed that straight line continuation was the only form of ordered behavior. One possible hypothesis was that the contribution to “ordered behavior” of line formation, was based on the proportion of “order” in the base figure and some general population parameter that is a tendency to contribute or differentiate from any emerging order. This is simply to say that people felt more inclined to add to order when it was represented. The more chaotic the template was, the more participants felt comfortable adding to the chaos.
Still, with the dots there is no intuitive form of participation towards a constructed form. The next experiment will deal with legos, where there is an implicit understanding that adding a piece is for some purpose of construction. My early hypothesis there is that deviant placement of legos will lead to unstable structures that will quickly fall apart.