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Your Line or Mine – Crowd sourced animations at the Stedelijk Museum


Created by Moniker and commissioned by Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, ‘Your Line or Mine’ is an interactive installation in the Stedelijk Museum comprised of three continually changing crowd sourced animations drawn entirely by the museum’s visitors. Visitors are invited to take part by contributing with their own drawings. They grab a sheet of paper from the coloured stack, draw following the instructions on the paper, and scan their drawing. Once scanned, their drawing automatically becomes a frame in one of the animations projected in the space.

The team at Moniker first developed the skeleton animations and split them up into frames to print on sheets of A4 paper. Each piece of paper has a number of dots and an instruction on how to connect them. Some are easy, some are complex. Some instructions leave almost no space for interpretation, some leave it completely up to the user. In a way the instructions act as a programming language and the visitors as Graphical Processing Units. Moniker have been developing this rule based approach through the workshops we have been doing under their Conditional Design manifesto.

In our participative projects, we are interested in collaborating with our users. We try to create a setting which makes people want to follow our instructions but also allows for a bit of anarchy. It might be sacrilegious to say, but we are not really looking for individual creativity. We treat our participative projects a little like a choir: it is about what the group does together. We prepare the score, the installation acts as the conductor and we only find out how the group does when we go live. Each of the drawings has its own voice and influences the whole for 1/12th of a second. In the end, it is up to the visitor to draw our line or their own.

completeThe skeleton dot animations were developed in the browser using Paper.js and they used the Node.js based Canvas framework to export them to individual frames. They built flatbed scanners into three tables together with a big button linked together using a Raspberry PI. On the PIs they used the Python based Twisted framework in combination with the SANE framework for scanner communication. Scans are synced between the tables and the central processing machine using Bittorrent Sync. Each scan features a barcode containing the movie and frame it belongs to.

A quad core i7 Mac Mini takes care of the rest: processing the scanned images and projecting the animations. It also serves a web based moderation environment and re-composites the Vimeo versions of the animations on at the end of every day. Most of these backend elements are written using Node.js.

Finally, they used Unity for the exhibition space projections. Even though Unity is mainly known as a game development environment, it is also ideally suited for interactive projection installations. To make sure nothing ever goes down, they used a separate Node.js process to monitor the different processes, restarting them when necessary and notifying us of any hardware or network issues.

The exhibition is open until 10th of August 2014, and at the time of writing, 8428 visitors drew a frame but you have 6 months, and 16 days left to add yours.

MonikerProject Page | Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam