MobileArtCon 2010: a need for the Social Canvas

Benjamin Rabe

MobileArtCon-fingerpainting @ Met NYc - 36

It’s been a week from now and the MobileArtcon 2010 has been generally described as a success.

And while it perfectly showed the wide range of quality and expression possible through mobile devices and apps, for me it also showed where the limitation lies when it comes to the social element in mobile art: the canvas.

Virtual physical limitations

Patchwork: init!
All apps I use are doing a great job in either simulating or emulating paint tools. They also simulate and constrain the canvas mainly by size. This is certainly a good thing to get started if you need a constraining frame for your painting in mind. But if you want to share your paintings with others, and maybe have them remixed, you’re restrained to the giving bounding box of the file. It’s not easy to create an adjacent painting e.g. that expands the story told in the former painting.


It’s also hard to extend your own paintings, that’s a thought I caught by someone (reading this? raise your hand!) during the con. Why not start tiling your paintings within the app, with some onion skinning at the margins mayby? Thus you could work on much larger pieces as well.


A call for the social canvas

I think there is quite a good social communication established in many flickr groups now, but they are limited to a social object, that is by definition not extendable.

Check out MrDoobs Multiuser Sketchpad for example. I painted only the bunny here, everything else came in in the next 5 mins (and no, it’s another Matt I don’t even know):

Another example is the webcanvas project, creating a mural. You’ll find the funniest stuff when zooming in…


I’m also thinking towards education here where this would be a great resource, too.

So what I wanna propose is thinking towards how can the canvas we work on be freed from it’s boundaries and become a social, exchangeable, remixable object that’s different from its representation as a picture file on the web now and also allows for a better embedding in the webbed world of information we are building. OpenDoc, anyone? πŸ™‚

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