Open Source Art

Perhaps you’ve already seen the spectacular interactive music video for Rome’s “3 Dreams of Black” by Chris Milk and Google. If you’re technically inclined, the source code is available on Google Code and there’s also a page with background information.

This post is not about the video though. It’s about a short paragraph from Peter Kirn’s article about the video:

To me, there’s an unfortunate focus in digital media on novelty, when the commoditization of technique may be just the prerequisite needed for a cultural revolution led by artists on screens. Consider the way in which techniques in painting and illustration gave rise to modern Western arts: these arts were commoditized into mass industries, and artists not only acquired skills by apprenticing with masters, but routinely copied techniques through studious observation and copying. Unlike a painting, the separation of code and output obfuscates the underlying structure. But with shared code, fundamental techniques in code are as accessible as the surface of a canvas. If the basics are a commodity, the opportunity for breakthroughs and mastery becomes greater, not less.

A commoditization of technique. Sounds about right to me.