Massively multi-artist painting and drawing event

Screen shot of an aircraft crash taken from the popular Flight Simulator program. Image: Gizmodo

Some time ago I read of an event where a crowd of “Flight Simulator” aficionados were each provided with a remote control device that enabled them to manipulate an aeroplane that was projected onto a cinema screen. No individual had complete control of the aircraft; instead, the movement of the aircraft was determined by the averaged responses from the whole population of remote control devices. Even though 100 pilots all trying to fly the same aeroplane at the same time seems guaranteed to produce plane crash, that isn’ what happened. Instead, the crowd managed to get the aircraft to take-off, travel around, and land without a hitch.

Since reading about the Flight Simulator experiment, I’ve often thought about a similar experiment involving a program like Gimp or Inkscape. The idea would be to have many (10,000+) individuals around the world enroll to participate in producing a series of art-works. I don’t have the programming skill to write the necessary engine, but with the advent of massively multiplayer online (MMO) gaming environments, it should now be much easier to produce than it was, say, five years ago. A “massively multi artist” drawing or painting experiment could show some interesting things about collective aesthetics.

Contributors: Mark R. Diamond