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Artist Taps a Cast of Thousands to Create Abstract Drawings [Video]

Clement Valla’s crowdsourced Seed Drawings show just how bad the Internet is at following directions.

Artist Taps a Cast of Thousands to Create Abstract Drawings [Video]

We all know vaguely that the Internet is a careless, petulant, we-make-up-our-own-damn-rules kind of a place. But rarely do we see this sort of thing visualized — and so charmingly.

Brooklyn artist Clement Valla asked thousands of people online to copy small, simple line drawings on a grid to create a larger artwork. Using Amazon’s web-based labor marketplace Mechanical Turk (the same service popularized by pioneering digital artist Aaron Koblin), Valla issued the following directive: “The drawing must be as similar as possible to the neighboring drawings.”

If everyone had followed directions to the T, each of these big drawings –called Seed Drawings — would be relatively uniform. Judge for yourself how well that worked out:

Of course, lots of variation can be attributed to the subjective nature of the task. One person sees a clutch of dots, another person sees an inkblot. Some of it, though, was clearly blatant disregard for the rules. Note the sperm-like squiggle on the upper right here:

The cool thing about the project is that it’s self-regulating. As Valla tells us in an email, when drawers ignore the instructions, “This can create sudden ruptures that may in turn be copied – or not. Since each worker sees multiple drawings, they may choose to copy the dominant drawings, and ignore the obvious outlier.”

[Images courtesy of Clement Valla; hat tip to Infosthetics]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.