Public Emergence: Procedural Painting #3

A public painting created by a diverse array of contributors based on a simple set of rules.

Every once in a while I do something totally analog. Public Emergence: Procedural Painting #3 was an experiment in emergence. I painted the front wall of my loft on Pacific Avenue in Venice black and drew a grid of eight-inch squares in pencil. A sign, paint and brushes invited people to paint within the squares, continuing the lines of adjacent squares. The piece was inspired by the Surrealist Game Exquisite Corpse and the computer game Sim City.

Examples of emergent behavior: A trash can that was used for reaching higher squares appeared mysteriously overnight (L); round-the clock contributors (C), including the couple who brought a ladder from their house to add their squares (R).

The goal was for contributors to create a community map. People of all ages and walks of life, including homeless people, kids, and grandparents, added squares over a two-week period until the wall was filled. People would come back regularly to show their family members their squares, and the piece was also used as a backdrop for at least two fashion shoots of which I am aware. It remained intact, free of graffiti and vandalism for several years, until an overzealous graffiti abatement contractor accidentally painted it over.