Brain Pickings

The Johnny Cash Project: Global Collaborative Storytelling


Frames, doodles, and how to weave a digital quilt out of legendary music and cultural history.

Our friend Aaron Koblin — he of Sheep Market and Bicycle Built for 2,000 fame — is back with a brilliant new project in collaboration with director Chris Milk for Lost Highway records: The Johnny Cash Project, a global collaborative art project constructing a music video for Cash’s final studio recording, “Ain’t No Grave,” from hundreds of user-submitted one-of-a-kind portraits of the iconic artist.

The drawings are crowdsourced using an online tool similar to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which randomly selects three frames for the contributor to choose from and draw.

The Johnny Cash Project is a visual testament to how the Man in Black lives on — not just through his vast musical legacy, but in the hearts and minds of all of us around the world he has touched with his talent, his passion, and his indomitable spirit.

You can algorithmically curate various versions of the video by toggling between different criteria by which to sort the individual frames — highest-rated, most recent, most intricate, realistic, abstract, and more.

Needless to say, we love both the concept and the execution — not only because it offers an intriguing contrast between this digital playground and what we’ve always found to be the rustic, analog appeal of Cash’s sound, but also because it crafts a beautiful metaphor for the breadth and impact of his music, revealing both the uniquely intimate experience of each listener and the powerful global cultural resonance of his heritage.

Contribute your thread to this wonderful collaboratively woven magic.

via Creativity

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