Scribble it Down is an experimental project featuring a new and unique collaborative effort between young artists working together although geographically distant.
Scribble it Down fuses various elements of today's digital capabilities. Technological developments today are changing the ways people engage in dialogue, becoming essential for both information and social contact. The concept of sharing images and ideas to gather people around mutual interests, has become relevant to every aspect of the contemporary age.
The "global village" is now, more than ever, a relevant (if worn off) slogan. People find themselves closer to one another with little boundaries in communication and a common frame of mind (technology being the unifying paradigm). "Scribble it Down" merges digital communication trends with traditional art and creation processes. It creates an artistic dialogue via the digital media, connecting and fostering collaboration among artists. It gives an opportunity to ‘scribble down’ our ideas while remaining open minded and receptive to others’ input and contributions. It uses the strength of the group to grow and allow art to expand.
The digital era is giving birth to new ways of creating. Computer programs, new file and communication formats, enhanced storage capabilities, and better visual detailing are expanding the visual. It is giving birth to a new type of artist, who takes advantage of these new tools for artistic expression.
The presentation of this project is an invitation to the viewer to see artists embrace the freedom provided by the digital medium. It is an exploration into how the digital world, with its multitude of memes and imagery folklore, can find coherence and produce provoking works of art.
I put out a call to artists who wished to work collaboratively in digital format, work collectively while embedding their individual artistic style into a singular piece. The response to my call was greater than I anticipated.
9 artists were selected, with different artistic styles and from different locations around the world. All artists displayed great proficiency in Photoshop and the use of on-line communication portals. The artists were then split randomly into two groups, one of 4 members and the other of 5, to amplify the influence of each member on the final piece.
Once a month the artists were provided with a new document, at first a blank .PSD format picture. The next month, the documents would be rotated so that each artist would receive the canvas previously worked on by another artist. All artists were free to create in whatever way they wished and produce a piece they saw as finished.
There was no direct communication between the artists other than through the pieces themselves. They were not privy to previous editions of the file, and at the end of each round the image was flattened and standardized before the curator sent it to the next artist. The decision to do so was made in order to allow the art pieces to mutate without constricting the artists to an interpretation by previous artists. The art pieces were flattened between each round for the same reason. I believe there is room for improvement on this decision, and the artists could be given access to the previous pieces. Also, flattening the images prevents the next artist from easily interacting with specific elements in the pictures. In the future perhaps the images should be left as they are for the next artist to do as he wishes, facilitating more flexibility in handling the pieces, and taking full use of Photoshop's capabilities.
There were 4 / 5 rounds of rotation until all the files had passed through each group. The project took around six months to complete, and dedicated hard work by all the participating artists as well as the curator.
By following the several stages of the works, we can see how the artists were inspired by the pieces they were given. Some elements inspired all artists in the group and lasted through all the different stages of the creation of the piece. Others showed how the background or the spaces the original artist created became an inspiring environment for sequential artists to create inside/along. The works mutated and changed, some violently and surprisingly, others more subtly and over extended periods of time and rounds. In general the final pieces were quite different than what was originally envisioned by the starting artist.
In most creations, the group unknowingly agreed upon certain intrinsic elements and maintained them through the collaborative creation process. The group would subconsciously agree on an element, whether it is a color an image or even a simple line. That element would become a source of inspiration for the following artists. These mutual elements demonstrate the unique capability of the digital medium to change almost completely with little clues on what was there earlier yet maintain an element almost too elusive to maintain in traditional art methods.
During some of the processes there appeared to be an agreement about the space of the creation. In some instances the art work became a background for the other artists, who maintained a certain mutual space into which they implanted their own images. The mutual space lasted for almost all rounds. Along the process artists added to that space with respect to the organization of the elements that were there before, all the while finding the space for their own self-expression and to provide a different interpretation of preexisting elements, shapes and colors.
The Markov Model
In probability theory, a Markov model is a stochastic model that assumes the Markov property. Observations are possible only for the current state of the system and its last change. In a Markovian process each step is solely dependent on its previous step without recollection or knowledge of any prior steps.
In an analogous way, each artist could only have access to the previous step of the process. The ability to take over and to cover up is also part of the digital medium, to appropriate another's work for your own. Most of the changes left hardly any trace of what was there earlier. The ability to start over gave freedom to the artist to take the elements he wished to maintain while discarding others. It is also very interesting to see how a very feminine image with beautiful women and images of repeated wombs became more and more about territory and borders, political and religious masculine statements.
Handmade elements in the digital format
During the later stages of the rotation process, handmade works were added into the digital art. This element created a dialogue between the traditional art and the new media possibilities that exist in the digital format.
This addresses the issue of "artistic signature". Can the artist maintain and individual statement without physical brush strokes? This project attempts to find answers to this question by following the different artists and viewing their contribution to each art piece in turn. It becomes clear over time what each artist is providing. Some artists attempt to take over the pieces provided to them while others find their place in more minute and suggestive gestures. Each artist can be "trademarked" through his contributions to the collaborative effort.
Dialogue with previous artists
All the pieces in this project are a form of dialogue by artists with their predecessors. In each round the artistic addition may be a description, a critical view, a humorous note, even a derision of the previous efforts. The project provides the viewer with a possibility of viewing the artists’ dialogue as if observing an ant farm from the outside. The viewer is the only one aware of all the different element and the evolution of each piece, of the transfer and exchange of ideas and memes.
“Scribble it Down” had no specific theme, trying to maintain an environment as open as possible to artistic input. However, there may be room in the future for a central theme or topic that all the artists can investigate and research together.
I hope this idea will evolve allowing artists, designers and amateurs around the world who are interested in this type of creation to be involved in similar projects. I hope to create more opportunities of dialogue between artists, perhaps further utilizing what technology has to offer.
To the artists who participated in this project, my warmest gratitude:
Anita Rodriguez-Waklein, Brianna Lea-Pruett, Dorit Stern, Gall Yanay Orian, Harel Menachem, Idan Lightman, Inbal Hoffman, Jason A. Katzenstein & Jon Delgado.
Without whom none of this would be possible.
Special thanks to the Emergent Art Space (EAS) organization for supporting this project from the beginning.
To Grazia for accompanying the project.
To Laura and Vivian for preparing the online exhibition.
Special thanks to Hanan Grinberg for the technical and mental support during these long months.