Art and Audience Participation: What Can We Expect from the Future?

In a little more than three decades, digital technology has reshaped human communication, causing a profound impact in all aspects of culture, where new modes of creation, dissemination and consumption of cultural value have already created and erased whole industries. I will use the subject of art to explain what happened during the 20th century, and I will show how electronic and digital media played a key role shaping a new set of “Contemporary Art” principles. Furthermore, I will show how these principles find a perfect match in the digital medium itself, where objects are replaced by systems and processes, and contemplation is replaced by interaction and participation. Inspired by these principles, I will describe a series of software pieces that deal with issues of creativity, audience participation and cultural value:

  • The Tiny Icon Factory is a tool and gallery for the anonymous creation of black and white low resolution icons. With over 200,000 anonymous and uncensored contributions in under two years, The Tiny Icon Factory is an ongoing exploration of creative expression.
  • PictureXS was an anonymous picture aggregator. It featured an embedded tracing tool, a self-regulated censorship system, and tags. Before it was turned off in January 2011, PictureXS had collected over 30,000 pictures, 1000 drawings and 500,000 tags, reporting activity from across the world.
  • Running from 2005 to 2008, OpenStudio was a pioneering experiment in creativity, collaboration & commerce. Participants created and sold artwork in an online marketplace using an embedded drawing tool and virtual currency.

I will share some high-level insight based on the content produced by the users of these programs.

Speaker Details

Luis Blackaller currently works as an Art Director and UI/UX Designer in the Los Angeles based Digital Creative Studio WemoLab, and holds a part-time teaching position at the Institute of Multimedia Literacy at USC. Luis has a multidisciplinary background that covers aspects of entertainment, science, design, art and storytelling. He holds a Mathematics degree, and has worked as a designer, artist and animator among academy award winners in films like Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. He holds a MS from the MIT Media Lab, where he developed software to explore creative social systems and their relationship with artistic expression and communication. After graduating from MIT, Luis worked as a Producer and Creative Director for the Next Billion Network at the MIT Media Lab, where he designed and supervised the execution of alternative strategies of communication and promotion of research. Luis has a big cranium that can only be matched by the size of his imagination.

Luis Blackaller
Digital Creative Studio WemoLab
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      Jeff Running

Series: Microsoft Research Talks