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Art & math classes collaborate to create massive 3-D or Johnson Solid EXQUISITE CORPSE

Art and math classes from all over the world collaborate online to create massive 3-D Exquisite corpses as a geodesic dome or Johnson solid, reveling in collaborative chance-based mystique and inspiring interdisciplinary creation and exhibition.

Photo of Mel  Day
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How might we build upon the delightful and collaborative mystique of the Surrealist *exquisite corpse game to inspire creative confidence in young people? Inspire interdisciplinary collaborations between art and math classes throughout schools all over the world using the latest  online collaborative and computational tools to create massively complex 3-D and / or GEODESIC Exquisite Corpses.

Imagine not only creating the Exquisite Corpse (an exciting and creative process in itself—see details below) but printing them out and assembling a school-wide collaborative version (or an international collaboration between schools) at a MASSIVE scale. The resulting versions from each school could be exhibited together either locally, or in international collaborative exhibitions. The materials are simple: paper, scissors, and glue. The results could be spectacular and endlessly evolving.

Best of all, exquisite corpses really play with the idea of failure—there is no such thing as a mistake. The whole collaborative drawing turns the idea of failure and mistake on its head by delighting in the mystique of the accident. 

Johnson solidsEach polygonal face of the Johnson solid could be drawn/sketched/designed by a student in a class based on knowing only the edge information in a thin strip from neighboring polygons. Instead of a single sheet of paper, students draw upon complex multi-folded collapsed geodesic or Johnson solid paper-like shapes with other students from math and art classes all over the world drawing upon them. Once the last drawing is complete, the tightly folded origami-like shape unfolds and reveals a larger, amazingly complex geodesic or Johnson solid shape that can be rotated and viewed by participants and viewers alike (either online or in printed form)—from all over the world. 

The result could be fantastical, magical, artistic, innovative, scientific, combining both individually reflective work infused with collaborative potential—a great combination to draw out different personality types and diverse thinkers. 

Bettina suggested a great build—creating a drawing app based on this 3-D exquisite corpse idea. How much fun would a bus ride be (for example) if you could complete an exquisite corpse along the way and then everyone could see it unveiled at the end of the trip? The final products could be posted on a website. The resulting images could be stunning. These visualizations of their collaborative efforts could be posted online and select versions could be printed and assembled later, as desired.

Exquisite corpse (cadavre equis) is a famous, creative, collaborative, chance-based drawing game that was played in early 20th century Paris by Surrealists. Originally, participants would write in turn on a sheet of paper one word and the fold it so that only the previous word was showing. The next participant would add a word and pass it on, and so on. This grew into more elaborate drawings in which participants would draw a portion of an image on a piece of paper, fold it leaving only a sliver of the image showing for the next person, and then pass it on to the next person who would build upon the drawing, fold it, pass it on, and so on...

**This idea was germinated during a recent Palo Alto OpenIDEO meet-up. 

In this challenge, we want to create ideas with young people, not for them. Outline how you’re planning to involve young people or other end-users (parents, teachers, etc) in designing, iterating or testing your idea during the Ideas phase.

Young people directly participate and create the collaborative, large-scale, geodesic exquisite corpses from beginning to end. A modified smaller, more simplified geodesic shape could be prototyped online and/or shared with young people in a local school computer or art class—see Johnson Solid idea above.

How might you envision your idea spreading across geographies or cultures so that it inspires young people around the world to cultivate their creative confidence?

This game is used often as a creative exercise for many art, design and other classes and resonates across cultures and diverse groups of people. We imagine that the idea of a hidden drawing unfolding in newly complex and collaborative ways might pique the curiosity of young people and encourage drawing 'exchanges' between long distance friends and strangers.

What skills, input or guidance would you like to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

What other online examples of exquisite corpse are out there and how might we build upon them to specifically nurture creative confidence in young people? How can we specifically draw in younger folks. For example, would it be best to prototype in schools first to limit the pool of participants and test usability? What other ways can we build upon the pioneering creative mystique of the exquisite corpse to nurture creative confidence in young people?


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Photo of Masheyat Chowdhury

Art and Maths are very different, however it is a great combination, I really like the idea of mixing the two. The fact that this will benefit people from all over the world is a great way to bring people together, Well done!

Photo of Mel  Day

Thanks Masheyat! We noticed our son lit up when making the Johnson solids. It definitely builds off the middle school math curriculum—yet so aesthetically amazing when printed and assembled and full of possibility!

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