Crowdsourced Art as Communicative Aesthetics
The paper investigates what happens when recipients i.e. non-artist viewers, experience online interactive web-based crowdsourced works of art. Crowdsourced art is characterised by an artist’s framing of many thousands of creative micro-contributions from individual people in relation to a particular artistic idea or a concept. The creative micro-contributions, which can be photos, text, video or drawings, are harvested by the artist through an open call on the Internet. Crowdsourced art has roots in participatory art and web 2.0 participatory culture and business models. My research question is: what do recipients experience when they view, interact with and reflect upon online, interactive web-based crowdsourced art? My assumptions are that experiences may range from aesthetic experience, immediate sensory experience and immersion to critical reflections about the underlying crowdsourced mode of production. Special attention will be given to developing an understanding of a concept of communicative aesthetics as indicative of the huge amount of everyday aesthetics and everyday experiences as the framework set out in these works of art. The theoretical framework is interdisciplinary and draws upon theories within the field of reception theory, reception aesthetics and participatory art theory, and concepts from business theory on crowdsourcing. The investigation is based on a qualitative empirical study using the methods of Grounded Theory for data collection, analysis and concept-building. The project involves participant observations and in-depth interviews with recipients viewing crowdsourced art works. The study involves two crowdsourced works of art as cases. The first is http://www.thesheepmarket.com/ by Aaron Koblin (2006). The work contains 10,000 drawings of sheep created by online workers, harvested by an open call over 40 days via Amazons Mechanical Turk. The other case is http://www. learningtoloveyoumore.com/ by Harrell Fletcher and Miranda July (2002 – 2009). The work grew over seven years into a community representing everyday experiences and relying on contributions from 8,000 people (photos, texts and videos), responding to 70 assignments created by the artists. The conclusion suggests that crowdsourced art represents a new opportunity for compassionate identification the for non-artist audience through the content of everyday aesthetics and everyday experiences in works of art. In addition, it is expected that the study will document that crowdsourced art communicates a new type of asymmetric relationship which is experienced as legitimate if there is a balance between the artist’s self-expression in the artwork and the attention and space given to the non-artists’ creative micro-contributions.