Opinions sought on Photoshop Tennis January 16, 2002 6:16 AM   Subscribe

Photoshop Tennis: Has been much discussed here at MetaFilter. As I'm writing a small article about it for a Chicago Arts magazine, your opinions would be appreciated.
posted by aladfar to General Weblog-Related at 6:16 AM (25 comments total)

I'd hope your scope would be wide enough to include the wide array of collaborative media on the net, not just Photoshop tennis.
posted by machaus at 6:37 AM on January 16, 2002

Well, I'd like to mention other collaborative media work (please link to them if you know of any in particular) but the article is going to focus mostly on Photoshop tennis (as Coudal is based here in Chicago).

I'm trying to get a feel for how peole feel about it - do the matches result in interesting collaborative art, or do the egos of the competing designers result in an unsightly mess? Moreover, what's the appeal behind the matches? Do they serve any purpose other than to promote the Coudal site?

I've my own theories, but I'd like to hear others opinions as well.

posted by aladfar at 6:47 AM on January 16, 2002

At best, serve-by-serve there's a sense of dialogue or playful one-upmanship. But I can't say that the end result feels like a "collaboration" precisely -- that is, it's not the production of a "piece" of collaborative art. More like a little improv performance in the visual arena. Which, esp. when accompanied by appropriately funny commentary, can be fun -- but like all improv performance, has its definite limitations. Good luck with the article!
posted by BT at 7:12 AM on January 16, 2002

I love the improv collaborative art, and the overall sense of playfulness. Another great thing is the commentary; without it the game would be much less interesting, I think.
posted by D at 7:45 AM on January 16, 2002

What D said.
Also, I love photoshop tennis as it seems like the perfect embodiment of all that the net might haver to offer as it's own culture. Seems very Mondo2000 to me. You wouldn't get things like this any other way.
posted by dong_resin at 8:08 AM on January 16, 2002

Some of the best - the 10/12 match for instance clearly had a give and take that suggested the promise of colabrative artwork. A lot of times though (think 11/15) it seems as though the designers did all of their layers the night before and just wanted to play with themselves.

This Thread talked about blankimage.com which sent a flash file to a bunch of artists and invited them to change it and send it back. In many ways that kind of colaboration seems more interesting to me.

after previewing I have to agree that many times the commentary is more interesting than the creative product of the players.
posted by willnot at 8:20 AM on January 16, 2002

please link to them if you know of any in particular

An Exquisite Corpse ...
posted by walrus at 8:21 AM on January 16, 2002

derivitive one-up-manship in the guise of chain-letter art. like passing a story around...good luck with the article.i find little artist value in it. but it sounds fun.
posted by clavdivs at 8:24 AM on January 16, 2002

clavdivs, do you class a mixing deck as an instrument or a toy?
posted by walrus at 8:34 AM on January 16, 2002

a less collaborative version of this would be a Splash War, which various people have been doing for quite a while.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:01 AM on January 16, 2002

An Exquisite Corpse is excellent for your article, Aladfar, as Heather and Phineas are also in Chicago.
posted by jason at 10:49 AM on January 16, 2002

You could also mention the mass photoshopping done at community sites like Fark.com and b3ta.com. Not necessarily artistic (generally sophomoric at best), but a movement nontheless. Someone at fark just says "photoshop this", points at an odd image and bam - there's 100+ variations posted in less than a day.
posted by kokogiak at 11:26 AM on January 16, 2002

I think it works best as a fun thing to do on a Friday afternoon; I've had conversations on whether the matches are art or not, design or not, significant, etc., and it's ultimately tiring and uneventful to pursue the topic (for me).

Some matches work very well, some not at all; it's soundly evident which fit into either category. I'd recommend contacting the different designers as to how they enjoyed it; [off the record] I know for me it's a great way to get drunk and talk nonsense. [/off the record]
posted by rosecrans at 11:35 AM on January 16, 2002

We agree with 'crans, the best matches are when the jpegs are flying back and forth, the commentator is cracking wise, votes are pouring into the inbox, the phones are quiet and the beer cold.
posted by coudal at 11:51 AM on January 16, 2002

I don't care much for Exquisitecorpse...it's basically 4 or 5 different jpgs smushed together with the aid of the blending tool.
posted by jennak at 2:06 PM on January 16, 2002

Never heard the term "photoshop tennis." I have seen what they do at Fark, I find that mostly uninteresting and juvenile.

First saw collabrative interactive art projects at sito.org, then when the design portals (k10k, surstation, kiiroi, etc) started popping up we got design battles, which had more to do with how fast/how good could two people make a graphic in a couple hours.

There's halfproject's duel, dhky vs. famewhore... I saw some battles linked from kiiroi and k10k last year, but people don't do it quite as much anymore.

PDF design mags are where its at right now.
posted by raaka at 3:42 PM on January 16, 2002

"instrument or a toy"-neither
posted by clavdivs at 4:50 PM on January 16, 2002

way back when, entropy8 and zuper fell in love & started their collaborative project, entropy8zuper.org. other collaborative web projects include the fabulous communimage and pieces with real world components, like 1000 journals or nervousness.

i like photoshop tennis quite a bit, but as raaka points out, the duels are not a new idea (and also have some overlap in the music world, where there are lots of vs. projects)
posted by judith at 4:59 PM on January 16, 2002

when i think of photoshop tennis i get a feeling of an old school freestyle rap contest. both people are constantly trying to one up one another and bravado constantly comes into play. i quite like it.

perhaps my analogy is a bit slanted because of the fact that i've been listening to rahzel, 80's era ll cool j, run dmc and the human beatbox from the fat boys all day... but i stand by it.
posted by boogah at 5:28 PM on January 16, 2002

Photoshop Tennis was a neat idea. Then they called in a bunch of stars to play. So instead of having even the semblance of collaboration, it's a pissing contest, during which I'm just waiting to see how many rounds it takes before one of them completely obliterates the image with a completely new layer, rather than altering what was being worked with. It's only gotten worse as time has gone by.
Sure there have been some great moments(the printout stapled to the light pole, for example), but I barely consider it worth paying any real attention to anymore.

There's another site running a project based on the same process, but with more "regular" folk, which has produced much more interesting results. Unfortunately, I can't recall where, and didn't bookmark(*smack*). Anybody else have an idea? I know that Noah Grey was involved in one of the matches, but can't remember any others.
posted by Su at 5:50 PM on January 16, 2002

Found it, over at jimformation.com.
posted by Su at 5:55 PM on January 16, 2002

yeah exactly, judith. the whole idea of design battles is completely rooted in deejay battles. everything is the same except the medium.
posted by raaka at 6:35 PM on January 16, 2002

The whole PsT experiment has been pretty interesting. We have never set any but the most basic rules and never professed to know what should be considered "good" or "bad" play. Yet voters immediately started setting their own standards and using them to judge the matches. Generally people seem to like the more collaborative, transparent matches that advance some sort of story rather than the wilder, more boastful battles, but we’ve tried to not interfere with the play or the voting in any way and just let things develop on their own.

We started by updating the matches by hand and couldn't really afford the time to run more than one a week, so we asked people we knew or whose work we admired to play. Now we’re preparing to open the whole thing up to everybody and that should change the dynamic again. We’ll see how it goes.

posted by coudal at 4:59 AM on January 17, 2002

Some one mentioned sito as being one of the first colloborative sites on the net. That's absolutely correct as they were doing the Photoshop Tennis thing (using a different name) in 1994 (That's not a typo).

In some ways it was more advanced then what the Tennis thing is as "players" could open an IRC or Cu-Seeme and communicate in real time. They're still going strong over there with a whole page of collaborative projects. Ed Stastny is the founder and no history of colloboration on the internet should be written without mentioning his name, imo.

Ok, that's off my chest. Psop Tennis sometimes bothers me because it doesn't seem to feature that much colloboration. There's a lot of focus on the "star quality" of the players but not so much on the content. I actually enjoy reading the comments on the match more than the match itself.
posted by jeremias at 6:48 AM on January 17, 2002

On the subject of collaborative media, I don't believe a whole lot of people know about the "World's 1st Collaborative Virtual Generative Composition" featuring Brian Eno.

posted by jacobw at 4:47 PM on January 17, 2002

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