Perhaps you played the French Surrealist game, ‘The Exquisite Corpse,’ in grammar school using the week’s vocabulary words or at a sleepover, where someone inevitably managed to take the game in an inappropriate direction (wasn’t me, I swear). If you do not recognize the creative exercise by its proper name, you will by its concept: a person begins a sentence or drawing on a piece of paper, covers their creation, passes the paper to the following person, and so the game continues until all participants have contributed. The final ‘masterpiece’ is often a comical, nonsensical, and potentially inappropriate, Dadaist anti-creation.
In July, Google’s Creative Lab teamed up with London’s Tate Modern Museum and launched the online collaborative project, “This Exquisite Forest.” Borrowing the game’s concept from the Surrealists, “This Exquisite Forest” enables users to draw or animate their own short animations (using Google Chrome browser) based on the initial “seeds” created by the artists Miroslaw Balka, Olafur Eliasson, Dryden Goodwin, Ragib Shaw, Julian Opie, Mark Titchner, Bill Woodrow, and Film4.0’s animators. One difference between the Surrealist’s version of the game and this project is the fact that online participants will have access to what was contributed before their own addition (as opposed to the Surrealist game where each participant's contribution is covered before moving on).
As users add their own animations and visual narratives using a web-based drawing tool, “the videos dynamically branch out and evolve, forming multiple new visuals.” From this idea- of initial videos or “seeds” planted by Tate’s artists- and the additional sequences branching out to create trees, this collaborative online project was coined “This Exquisite Forest.”
The project exists both in the digital realm and in the physical world. Large-scale projections of the best of the online contributions are displayed in the Level 3 gallery of the Tate Modern. In-house visitors have the opportunity to view the animations and contribute their own additions using digital drawing stations in the gallery.
“This Exquisite Forest” does three things expertly:
1) Allows museum-goers and web-users to become creators and curators, not just passive consumers of art
2) Provides a forum for the global, online community to collaborate creatively
3) Markets Google’s web browser Chrome, Google App Engine, and Google Cloud Storage
The physical installation at the Tate will run until January 2013 (approximately).