Community Art: Brick by Brick

Can art be crowdsourced? Can design? Does the crowd naturally form order or chaos? Are there systems that inherently draw order from the crowd?

In order to address these questions I began a series of public art projects where each individual would be given the one unit of the creation. Depending on the medium this would mean one brush stroke, one pixel, one brick.

Today the medium was Legos. Using these familiar bricks creates a set of quite unique conditions for crowdsourced art. To being with, there is an embedded cultural instinct of what to do with a Lego – you simply put it on top of another Lego to build a structure. Second, there is a degree of heterogeneity, not just in color, but in shape, size, and utility. Third, it is very easy to “deconstruct” (either accidentally or on purpose). For these reasons, the finished product is not as important as the process. I began with a few hypotheses.

From the previous dot projects and underlying hypothesis it is understood that participation in community art projects roughly falls into two campus. There are those individuals that try to participate in a structure, vs those that attempt to be outliers, separate from an emerging pattern.

With only one unit to contribute my hypothesis going into the Lego project was that some would try to extend their creation farther and farther off the board and into outlandish arms. However with each successive extension the appendage would become unstable and quickly fall off. In the other camp, those that applied stable foundations, would survive longer into a growing stable structure.

Looking at the results it is clear that the off-shoots were irresistible. What resulted was a steady state of extensions and destruction. The surprising result, is that even after two hours, there was very little accumulation of a stable base.

Stable organized growth requires deliberate action. Due to the sensitivity of the structure even those that place pieces in a constructive manner became unstable due to the heterogeneity of the pieces.

I began asking these questions in relation to the forces that drive us to cooperate and be a part of a group, or differentiate and be an individual. These are general questions, but is there a way to create a simplified empirical measurement? Maybe not, but if the experiment fails we can still call it art!


About livingthememe

engineer and armchair philosopher
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