It's an old surrealist game: Someone starts a drawing or a sentence, folds the sheet of paper to hide most of it, and passes it on to someone else to continue the creation. Now this aesthetic of chance will reach a global scale with "This Exquisite Forest," a new project conceived by Google Creative Lab's Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin, and co-presented by Tate and Google.
Half artistic project, half marketing tool for Google's web browser Chrome and other technical innovations, "This Exquisite Forest" enables users to create short animations or develop existing ones via the Web site or an interactive display which will open at Tate Modern's Level 3 next Monday.
"This project is an experiment in collaborative creativity," said Koblin. "It’s about allowing people to connect and express themselves in new ways. It’s also about experimenting with modern Web technologies and taking advantage of the newest features in Chrome."
Contributions by Miroslaw Balka, Olafur Eliasson, Dryden Goodwin, Raqib Shaw, Julian Opie, Mark Titchner, and Bill Woodrow will launch the project, and be transformed over time by web users' and gallery-goers' own additions. Users will also be able to start their own seed-animations to fill "This Exquisite Forest," which has the potential to branch out endlessly.
"This Exquisite Forest" could offer a stimulating challenge to the traditional museum's hierarchy, in which artists are the makers and visitors passive beholders — but it also sends a rather worrying signal on the institution's increasing corporatization. With projects of this kind, the line between experimental endeavour and business showcase is wearing dangerously thin.
"This Exquisite Forest," Tate Modern Level 3 and online from July 23rd, 2012