The Great Google+ Art Experiment

Several weeks ago, I asked any "adventurous artists" to contact me about a Google+ experiment (original post: As you can imagine, my inbox rather quickly filled with responses...sometimes with hilarious subject lines ("Adventurous Artist looking for long walks on the beach" comes to mind). I had 30+ artists volunteering before 30 minutes had passed, and because this really was an experiment, I just made a Circle, threw the first 30 in, and started explaining what my idea was:

"The gist of my experiment is that I want to get a bunch of awesome artists together who are interested in G+ and furthering the spirit of content-sharing and creativity on this platform ... I want to demonstrate that it's possible for people who have never heard of each other to come here and use Google's tools to make something awesome."

That was it. I had no grand plan, no scheme beyond that. I just wanted to know what would happen if 30 strangers who liked to make art got together to...make some art. Would Google's collaboration tools help or hinder? Would anything happen at all? I had no idea.

The video attached to this post is the result of many hours of hard work from artists around the world. The theme everyone chose was Circles -- rather fitting. Everything you see in the video is 100% original. Writers contributed their poetry, painters took pictures of their canvases, musicians composed and produced...and every collaborative effort was made through Google+ or Google products.

So, was the experiment a success? I asked the artists who participated to tell me how they felt Google+ worked for them in terms of making art collaboratively. Here are some of the responses:

“The G+ platform was used to the limits of its design, and other Google products nicely filled in on tasks where Plus came up short. Art can definitely be showcased here; art can even be made here.” +John Phillips

“Google+, from everything I've heard or experienced, is wonderful for artists. It gives an easily accessible gallery of photos that are open to immediate discussion, and most importantly, they are convenient. You see a picture in the flash of your rapidly cascading stream, and its impression is immediate. One can be bothered to look at it and appreciate it.” +Pete Davis

“We might have been able to do this on Facebook, but only if we'd met each-other some other way.” +Drew Nicholson

We found weaknesses too:

“While we can all use hangouts and do a +Daria Musk live show or some kind of audio showcase, it's still cumbersome to post music here. The simplest solution would probably be an embedded music player, like the Soundcloud and Bandcamp functionality in Facebook posts.” +Pete Davis

“My only beef throughout the project...was the lack of a ‘group’ page/function. We REALLY needed to be able to consolidate communications to one place. Yes, there's the ‘notify all’ option if one wants to post something to the group, but it's really easy to forget to do it.” +Cayenne Linke

The conclusion -- at least for me -- is that Google products really make collaboration possible. But let’s remember our part in making tools better. Pushing limits, experimenting, playing with the platforms actively makes our feedback more useful. And we get things we need when we know how to ask for them. Just look at how Google has responded to user feedback on G+ so far.

I think the experiment was a success. Is the video a masterpiece? Not really. It’s a series of small masterpieces pieced together to prove a point: Google+ is a new place to do things you never thought you would. Like make an art project with a group of strangers on the Internet. These artists have just created their own unique network of fellow artists who can help them become more refined artists. That’s not something you can do very easily anywhere else, at least not as far as I’m aware.

Thank you to everyone who participated, but a very special thank you indeed to +Drew Nicholson, who managed this project with more grace and enthusiasm than I could have possibly hoped for.

And thanks to all of you who make Google+ an amazing community to play in. Without you, it’d just be a Facebook clone with a bigger character limit.


Music Composed and Arranged by +Pete Davis
Assistant to the Composer: +John Phillips
Assistant to the Director: +Kay Partain
Logo Design by +Scott Pederson and +Kay Partain
Directed by +Drew Nicholson

+Bruce Aldridge
+Nathanael Card
+Brian Carroll
+Matt Davis
+Branden Johnson
+Matt Lichtenwalner
+Cayenne Linke
+Dan Magyar
+Ankeet P
+Stephen Reitz
+Amy Rothstein
+Graham Tiplady
+Ben Walker
+Aaron Wood
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