Monday, 7 March 2011

March 7, 2011

Drawn at the Austin Figurative Gallery:

I have this collaboration fantasy of getting 2 (or more) artists -- on different computers -- to draw the same live model, at the same time, on the same "digital canvas." However, I can not get the Drawpile software (version 0.4) to connect 2 computers like it is supposed to. Perhaps openCanvas would work better; or I might have to fall back on a whiteboard software.

Thus I drew tonight in draw2xio (an HTML5 program that works in Google's Chrome browser), to experience a "second best" kind of collaboration. While I was sketching the nude model, others (from somewhere else on the planet) were also drawing on that same "digital canvas" (like in Scratchpad). The following are my first two "digital collaborative" figure drawings:

I drew on a touch screen (Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t) with a Targus stylus. I liked the feel of the rubber tip on that stylus better than that of the plastic tip on a Wacom stylus, even if it wasn't as accurate. I connected to the Internet with a Rover Puck (which I bought in Houston) that can connect 8 computers to the Internet at the same time. It is pay-as-you-go, 4G, mini hotspot, unlimited service (no data usage cap).

2 identical Lenovo
touch screen PCs (in different configurations)
--with styluses --

set up for 2 artists to collaborate
on the same figure drawing at the same time

These "digital collaborative" drawings are not wonderful. Nor is my drawing set up -- which is just a "proof-of-concept." When more sophisticated tablet PCs come out later this year, like the ASUS EEE Slate, digital artists will have a better drawing pad to work on. However, the collaborative drawing software may still be lagging. I wonder why Photoshop doesn't add a "live layer" capability, where that layer would be a real time drawing from somebody else's tablet PC. Someone at the ATX Hackerspace suggested that it might be possible to write a GIMP plug-in that could connect 2 computers using that graphics software. Since South by Southwest Interactive starts this Friday, I might return to Austin to peer with folks that would understand my lust for collaborative digital drawing.

Then, once the computers are networked, the artists might draw with all kinds of different digital tools. While someone is drawing with a Wacom stylus, someone else might be drawing on that communal canvas with his fingers, while yet another artist might be drawing with a hacked Kinect. Still another artist could be drawing with a 3D stylus being developed by the MIT media lab, while a fifth artist might be drawing on his iPhone. Imagine if we could print the result on a 3D printer somehow. Collaboration in real time opens up a lot of new artistic possibilities (not to mention conflicts).

Update: 2 nights later in Lubbock we managed to do an actual collaborative drawing using the free version of openCanvas 1.1 (see the end of the next blog entry for details).

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