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The Ai Weiwei – Olafur Eliasson Collaboration — UPDATED

Speaking of collaborative art, today I had time to check in on the Internet art project started by the ever-enterprising Ai Weiwei in collaboration with Olafur Eliasson. It was “released” in late November in an announcement from Friends of Ai Weiwei. It’s called The Moon — with a URL too cute to hide behind a link:

thumb_markThe “premise” of the project is based on a massive digital sphere which, when launched, was “stark white canvas.” Users, AKA the public, are supposed to register, log in and make their own “digital marks” across the surface of this moon, “turning the satellite into a collaborative drawing space accessible by any one in the world.” And the message to me continued:

The project is meant to emphasize the global reach and interconnectivity of our ideas, recalling the old maxim that wherever we are in the world, we’re all looking up at the same moon. “Creativity defies boundaries,” the artists write in the introduction to the page. “Ideas, wind, and air no one can stop.”

thumb_mark (2)Ever skeptical, I went to the website, but didn’t register (too many passwords already!). But I was allowed to be a tourist – so I zoomed into a spot and found some marks that didn’t seem terribly interesting to me. On the side, you can choose “featured,” “latest,” “popular,” and “tags,” to get to marks others like, made recently, etc. See that question mark? That was recent one, as are the two little images below.

thumb_mark (1)Imho, this is a disappointment. From two good artists like this — admittedly not everything they do is great, but some is — I expected better.

The coolest part is watching the moon rotate and move into place when you click on something to view. But that’s not enough to be art, for me.

Friends of Ai Weiwei, btw, “has been formed to promote our universal right to “free expression” around the world. Our Friends are Individuals and Organizations committed to raising awareness to “free expression”, and “human rights”. Revenues from sales support the operating costs for this global initiative.”

UPDATE: ARTnews has now covered this project in more depth — though I have a quibble. The deck calls it “a giant leap for art.” I don’t think so, and that was reinforced by the article!



  1. Hi, i have been following this piece for a while and think that your review is very superficial. The fact that you quantify art by saying “not enough to be art” makes your words lack a serious and critical evaluation. Did you stop to think that the actual “art” behind all this is generating an ever lasting piece without borders? Or does art have to be a sculpture by Richard Serra or a giant poodle by Jeff Coons?

  2. Bob Ragland says:

    No matter what you do some body won’t like it. Had to say it.

    Haters don’t won’t win.
    Even if the art world is full of them.

  3. Fred Moeller says:

    In my opinion this project is just as poor copy of this here: Superfreedraw seems to exist since 2010 already! I cannot see why a clone of this old idea is now regarded a great art work just because it has been redone by world famous artists.

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