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Wylie Schwartz

Kollabor8 is virtual gallery displaying individual sequences of digital photomontage, an ever-evolving collaborative work of art. Exploring the transitory nature of internet content and the capacity for spontaneous creative synergy between unassociated artists, the images are displayed sequentially like threads in a forum, automatically archived and viewable as part of the process.

Created by Toegristle Studios, Kollabor8 is a “perceptual canvas blog”, where any given chain of images has infinite potential for change as each artist manipulates the previous image, and so forth. Functioning as an artists-hub, members are invited to transform works of digital collage by adding original images, digital photos, reproductions and scans, or by starting a new chain. To encourage collaboration, members are not permitted to upload a direct mutation to their own image. To encourage growth of chains a system of credits is in place. Two credits buy a new chain, and one is earned for every five images uploaded to a pre-existing chain. The art in this case is a virtual archive of the process of creating a work of art.

Kollabor’s images and themes change rapidly, with no outside communication or planning. Initiating a new chain is done with the understanding that this invites others to reinvent, destroy or expand upon the work, an element designed to support free collaborative play without the possibility of causing damage. Each link is in some way a derivative of the previous image, causing the art to be read as an ever-increasing pile of visual ideas, or depending on your perspective, the evolution of a work of art. However, in viewing the sequences of images, it becomes difficult to locate the source of the meaning within the expression. In one sequence, an image of a bird’s head remains a bird’s head but with added detail along the way, whilst in another, the second image is completely different from the first, encouraging the question of what or where is the possible meaning? Within the works, social commentary may become irreverence, or innovation humor. Considered in relation to Merleau-Ponty’s notion that the unity of the mental and physical in perception is signified in a work of art, both language and art-making rooted in the primordial, expressive gestures of the human body, the chains then become a symbolic articulation of a collective perceptual consciousness, the narrative within never fully attainable within the constraints of time and space.

The site’s basis in the internet adds new dimension to artistic process, the active element created or recreated through research or imagination. In this case the creative experience calls for an integrated performance where the subject stands in an ongoing living dialogue with the creator. Considered an experiment in online collaborative digital image-making, the resulting effect is perceptual Wikipedia meets Rauschenburg meta-Combine, where the evolving work can be seen to embody a form of cultural production that is multicultural, alluding to a poststructuralism where meaning and power are not determined by a single dominant viewpoint. With this in mind, the individual image-links are commendable as consistently intelligent design. However, is it art? Fortunately, as Kollabor8 reminds us, where a major concern in making a work of art is knowing when to stop, thanks to digital media and blogging we no longer have to. If the art is, as a matter of fact the process, then surely it is too soon to tell.

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