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Can Creativity Be Crowdsourced?

Can Creativity Be Crowdsourced?

Jon Ippolito and John Bell

Tuesday, July 29, 12:30PM
Berkman Center Conference Room
RSVP Required (
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 PM ET on 7/29.
Q + A with Jon Ippolito and John Bell on Open Source Art

The Internet both attracts and repels art institutions. Curators wonder who could possibly ensure quality control in a world where 50,000 videos are added to YouTube each day. Fortunately, artists themselves were crowdsourcing long before the Internet: composer John Cage laid out the principles fourteen years before Richard Stallman founded the Gnu project and twenty-nine years before the term "open source" was coined. In addition to collaborating on their own creative projects, artists have helped to build the very recognition networks necessary to find the Leonardos among the LOLcats. This month saw the public release of two social networks, The Pool and ThoughtMesh, designed to help collaborators and critics find and evaluate each other. Unlike existing publishing systems such as blogs and wikis, these networks aim to give ordinary users a "big picture" as well, and include graphical and lexical tools that can help answer such questions as how networked creativity is enhanced or hurt by licensing choices, the number of contributors, and project lifespan.

About Jon Ippolito

Jon Ippolito hopes building networks will help keep digital culture alive and kicking--but he has his hands full in today's climate of unfettered media monopolies, accelerated obsolescence, and looming co-optation by academia. He is the digital doyen of The Variable Media Network, an international consortium of museums and archives that devises medium-independent strategies to preserve new media art. As grand vizier of The Open Art Network, Ippolito works with a growing number of prominent digital artists to promote an open architecture for the Internet and digital media. As chief constable of the Still Water lab at the University of Maine, he works with Co-director Joline Blais to enforce an expansive definition of networked art in the academia and the art world, as argued in their 2006 book At the Edge of Art. The recipient of Tiffany, Lannan, and American Foundation awards, he has exhibited artwork with collaborative teammates Janet Cohen and Keith Frank at the Walker Art Center, ZKM/Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Harvard's Carpenter Center, and the Yale Art and Architecture Gallery. As Associate Curator of Media Arts at the Guggenheim Museum, he curated Virtual Reality: An Emerging Medium and, with John G. Hanhardt, The Worlds of Nam June Paik. Ippolito's critical writing has appeared in periodicals such as the Art Journal, Artforum, Flash Art, the Washington Post, and in his regular column for ArtByte magazine. He and his work have been cited in eleven New York Times articles and eleven Wired articles, but that never stops his university reviewers from asking why he hasn't published in any academic journals in the past year.

About John Bell

John Bell is a web developer and data artist at the University of Maine. He has contributed to the development of The Pool, a system for fostering and documenting distributed creativity in digital arts; released several open-source web authoring tools; and given birth to an artificial intelligence that accidentally committed suicide. Many of his projects focus on trust in online communities and maintaining intellectual integrity in environments where there are few consequences to ignoring it. His work has been featured in Wired online and he presented CodePlay@UMe at Ars Electronica's Electrolobby Kitchen in 2003.

As Still Water Research Fellow, John has been the primary developer on the Variable Media Network's Forging the Future project

and contributed his innovative Telamon software to Still Water's ThoughtMesh distributed publishing tool. John is also adjunct faculty in the U-Me New Media department.


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Past Event
Jul 29, 2008
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM