Big Art Mob

Over the last couple of days I’ve come across several mentions of the launch of a new Big Art Mob website and app.

Art Public, the creatives/developers behind the project also worked with Channel 4 on the original The Big Art Project back in 2006 – a reality TV series / public art experiment that encouraged local people in seven communities across the UK to actively engage in the public art commissioning process. Art Public were also one of the teams selected as part of the (Arts Council England/LOCOG funded) 2012 Artists Taking the Lead programme (see Bus-Tops, LED screen artworks for bus stops across London).

The new incarnation of the Big Art Mob is a web/mobile project that attempts, as the Art Public website says: “TO COLLATE ALL THE PUBLIC ART IN THE UK THROUGH THE PUBLIC’S MOBILE PHONES.” Rather than imposing a strict definition of ‘public art’, and making no distinction between ‘street / urban art’ and officially sanctioned ‘traditional’ public art work, the app will leave it up to users to decide what should be included: “Any work in public view created by a person or group whose aim was to create what they believe to be art, irrespective of genre or style.” (1) As a crowdsourced platform the new Big Art Mob also aims to generate (and presumable eventually to monetise?) a new collective interest and actual/online audience around public art: “We want to de-fragment how public art is documented and talked about, making a global hub for public art discovery.” (2)

I already have a few similar ‘public art/street art’ mapping and sharing apps on my phone already – Art Mapped, Urban Art Guide, and Banksy – so it will be interesting to see how the Big Art Mob version will differ from or improve on these, how its users will define ‘public art’, and whether it succeeds in its collective, cultural and commercial aims.

Sources:  Alfie Dennen, Art Public, quoted in (1) Rosie Spinks blogpost ‘A Very Public Guide to the World’s Public Art’ and (2) Mike Butcher’s Tech Crunch post ‘Big Art Mob Plans to Turn Urban Street Art Into Cash Via Tourist Maps and API’.

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