Kaazing and Ekito Power Real-time Mobile Crowdsourced 'Social Art'

By Peter Bernstein January 17, 2013

If you have ever been transfixed by the notion that people in motion can create art, then you probably remember the award winning British Airways commercial from 1989 embedded below.


This is more than just a case of beauty being in the eye of the beholder. It is the employment of technology to capture mass human movement as art. Some might even call it one of the first attempts to create “Social Art.” Interestingly, social art has once again been transformed and this time it is being transformed through an almost universally pervasive device aka the “smartphone.”   How so you ask?

Using a real-time crowd-sourced canvas

 Kaazing, founders of HTML5 WebSocket and the leading provider of a massively scalable live data communications platform for the Web and mobile, teamed with France-based partner Ekito, an innovative IT and IS company, to reveal a mobile device driven art application that turned the fourth annual Science and Art Novela Festival in Toulouse, France into a massive social art extravaganza as well. Festival participants became moving paintbrushes as their movements were collected by their smartphones via a mobile app and sent in real-time for production on a virtual canvas.  

 The resulting composition is actually quite interesting despite the randomness of its creation.

Source: Kaazing

In fact, it is kind of cool to watch the video of how this came about.


The video was displayed on the mobile app website and on a giant screen displayed at the Toulouse-Matabiau railway station, where viewers could follow the art project – live – as it was being dynamically created. 

Emmanuelle Mason, the artist behind the composition, relied on Kaazing and Ekito to make his vision a reality. He noted that, “We are living in an era where art and technology can combine to create something greater than the sum of its parts…On this project, Kaazing's real-time technology enabled us to explore the question of the private path in a common space, something that would not have been possible if the data wasn’t transferred in real-time.”

 "Toulouse was very pleased to experiment with a beautiful immersive experience through the Artistic project of Emmanuelle Mason, based on Kaazing’s real-time technology,” said Erwane Monthubert  Deputy Mayor of Toulouse, France.  “The project lit up the Novela festival, and participants of the 4th annual festival were excited to be involved in a completely unique experience.”

 How it worked

In order to “draw” their movements on screen, attendees downloaded the Déambulations app from Ekito – which was available for free for both iPhone and Android users.  The Kaazing-powered app instantly sent attendees movements to the Déambulations website. In real-time, the software was able to weave  together hundreds of thousands of attendees movements simultaneously creating a gigantic, live, crowdsourced art project.

 “In order for real-time data applications over the Internet to work, you need technology that is scalable and reliable to receive and delivery data to and from hundreds of thousands of users’ browsers and devices at one time with instant results,” said John Donnelly III, Kaazing EVP. He added that, “Real-time device applications are the cusp of modern innovations, and this project would have not been possible using legacy Web HTTP technology.  We have seen a huge demand for real-time data communication across a wide range of industries and applications such as real-time bidding for stocks and securities, multi-player interactive betting and gaming and truly innovative social marketing projects such as Toulouse.”      

Humans as a real-time etch a sketch. What a concept! Who knows, maybe next year there will be a competition between various festivals to see whose crowd draws the best. I wonder if the Louvre, just to name a famous place for viewing art, is going to pay Emmanuelle Mason for the “composition.” It is after all a historical milestone, and to be honest there is a lot of abstract art hanging in museums around the world that are not nearly (albeit a subjective call on my part) as visually compelling. 

All kidding aside, what was remarkable, even if you are not partial to the output, is the utility of the technology used. Real-time communications is clearly going to have a profound impact on all of us this year from things like Kaazing’s platform to WebRTC. We are still on the on-ramp to the learning curve of all of this. It will be fascinating to see how fast and in what direction we move from things of whimsy to industrial strength B2B and B2C applications. 2012 is already off to an interesting start.   

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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