10 Examples of Decentralized Art

This article first appeared in Issue 21: Bitcoin & Art





SwarmSketch allows any user to vote on every previously drawn line and add a new line to the sketch. The final result is truly the collective vision of an independent group of line artists. The only data recorded for each line is the country registered with the users IP address. Users have the ability to replay a collective sketch and see where and when contributions were made.



2Exploding Dog

The exploding dog web comic series mostly looks like stick figures drawn in MS Paint, but that simplicity also gives it a warm and welcoming charm. I only recently realized all of Sam Brown’s sketches are based on crowdsourced sentences and phrases. Sam’s images are sold as smartphone cases and prints, and he even sells his used pencils along with a monster book.

“Are you tired of buying new pencils and finding out that they are full of bad ideas? At less than 4 inches these pencils have had their bad ideas drawn out of them, this is your chance to make something great.“ – Sam Brown


3The Sheep Marketsheep

Ten thousand people came together online and were paid via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to draw one sheep sketch. Some of the illustrated sheep are fluffy, others are quite anorexic. Searching through various sheep is part of the fun. Seeing different interpretations of a sheep image shows no two minds think alike.







Some property owners may scoff at graffiti, but if you take a train through a city or walk around, this collection of art is an excellent real world example of decentralized art. From signed names and portraits, to funky landscapes, the sum of the works can only be experienced by the adventurous soul and wandering eye.




Yarn Bombing

For a less permanent but equally rebellious form of public expression, consider yarn bombing. A unified piece of clothing is made for inanimate objects like trees, bikes, or posts to spread cozy creativity around for all to enjoy.




For a more simplistic and playful project, straddling an LED across a CR2032 battery and taping the leads down will create an attachable light. Gather a small group together and you will have a random shimmery surface that will illuminate for a few days.

Using batteries for a throwie has been around for a few years, but some have ventured to make throwies out of pennies, cloth and vinegar. Others have suggested throwies can be made with potato or citrus batteries. Github is also a great source for decentralized software projects of all types, shapes, and sizes. Check out these next 4 graphics based projects.


Take at least 5 steps back to see a Mona Lisa.



PaperJs is an open source library dubbed as the “swiss army knife” for vector graphics in HTML5. The examples (http://paperjs.org/examples/) vary from shape shifting blobs that undulate based on your mouse movements to spirals that spin out to and swell at the right spots to draw a picture of the Mona Lisa.


Another example is a duet of colored trembling lines that shiver to the music of Trois Gnossiennes: Gnossienne No.3-lent.




IsomerJs is a library built for HTML5 that allows anyone to create 3D graphics with a few simple commands. One of the built in examples shows a spinning floating diamond at the top of a pyramid like structure reminiscent of Mayan ruins. This example loads on the right of the screen and the left has the code executing the graphics. You can change the number of stairs, how quickly the diamond spins, or fork the code and build your own structure with the isomer library.

clusteredforce layout


This project allows you to create graphs out of any data set. You provide a csv file and the project lets you map out the data using Hexagonal Binning, Convex Hull, Steamgraphs, Circle packing, or my favorite, as a Clustered Force Layout.

10Starling Graphics Extension

This library has been the graphics library behind the following games: ToDa Moon, Metal Buster, Hilomi, City Monkey, Bonza, Zombie Blood Bath, and many other games. My son watched me write this article and asked me to grab the game when he saw the Metal Buster image. Metal Buster is a mix between Street Fighter, Gundam, and Killer Instinct. During game play, each move is exclaimed by a Japanese commentator.

DDP Crew In Field

Bonus: Decentralized Dance Party (DDP)

I watched a montage of footage from several DDPs and walked away from the experience thinking the concept was stupid and full of crazy freaks jumping off buildings into pools, skiing down escalators, and wearing animal print football uniforms. But this goofy expression of energy is the entire point of DDP. They are trying to unravel those of us who have been mummified by cubicle cocoons and day-job drudgery. I’ll provide an abridged version of DDP’s Party Manifesto to help explain their party philosophy.


CLOTHING: Partying is all about letting go of your inhibitions. Kickstart the process by throwing on a ridiculous costume.

PROPS: In order to take the Party to the next level, you must drag out the trampolines, rollerblades, hula hoops, jump ropes, pogo sticks, beach balls, or musical instruments and share them all night long.

MUSIC: Next-level partying requires the infectious, high-energy music that will force everyone to sing and dance. Booty Bass, Eurodance, Party Metal, Jock Jams and Choice Hard Rock. The songs people know and love. And it must be as loud as possible.

DANCING: You might think dancing is hard and requires practice. Not so. Just stop thinking, let go and allow the music to be your master.

BEHAVIOR: As children, we constantly climb on, jump off, and explore everything. We want to run, scream, sing, dance, and play as hard as our bodies will allow.

We are fearlessly responding to nature’s Divine Programming, which western society works very hard to subvert and destroy by incessantly training us to sit still and be quiet and follow the rules and dress and act identically so that we can join the labor force and reproduce another batch of humans who will do the same.

It destroys our natural fun-seeking, creative impulses and is the reason so many are depressed and afraid to sing, dance, or deviate from the norm. Overcoming this conditioning is a formidable challenge. Partying can get us there.

ATMOSPHERE: Dark locations lower everyone’s inhibitions and are ideal, although sunglasses can be a viable alternative. Party lights and fog machines are also necessary. The atmosphere must be as crazy and high-energy as possible.

ALCOHOL: People drink a lot at most Parties because most Parties are boring and drinking is therefore necessary to loosen up and have fun. This is due to poor music, dull clothing, lack of props and lame atmosphere, all of which inhibit singing and dancing and living free.

But if the Party is really good, the atmosphere alone will cause people to lose their inhibitions and freak out and drive the energy to ridiculous heights and make it an incredible experience for everyone.

The music is transmitted from an FM radio antennae to pre-configured boom boxes that anyone can hold. They’ve hosted over 60 DDPs for thousands of party goers in North America and their goal is to have one DDP in every country on earth.

DDP party manifesto: http://www.decentralizeddanceparty.com/the-party-manifesto/.

Follow DDP: @ddpFTW and @Garylachance






In all these examples, we see that as traditional art reveals a message from a single artist, a collective decentralized work of art reveals a message from a group that can be as dynamic and evolving as nature.











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