Studio Moniker’s collaborative painting tool turns the Earth’s surface into a giant canvas
- Ruby Boddington
- 24 May 2018
We’re big fans of Studio Moniker here at It’s Nice That. Based in Amsterdam, the interaction design studio churns out project after project that continues to surpass expectations and its most recent, titled Painted Earth, is no exception. Launched inline with the opening of the Galileo Reference Centre, the project sees Studio Moniker creating an interactive, collaborative painting tool that turns the surface of the Earth into a giant canvas.
“In the Netherlands, we have this tradition that, whenever the government commissions a new building, a percentage of the building sum is spent on a work of art,” Moniker explains of how it got involved in the project. “In the past, these often materialised into more or less traditional sculptures, but lately, the state architect has been spending this sum on a curatorial programme or a digital product.” As the Galileo Reference Centre was due to be a high-tech building, Moniker, with its reputation in this field, was asked to pitch an idea that would reflect this, celebrating the technology they are working so hard on but that is invisible to most of us.
The Galileo Reference Centre is so named because of its relationship to the European Union’s global satellite navigation system: Galileo. A network of 24 satellites which orbit our planet from 23,000 km above the Earth, these satellites transmit the current time to the surface of the Earth and the Galileo Reference Centre monitors this process; an extremely important job, as Moniker points out.
What initially started out as a monumental, digital work was soon channelled into something more interactive. “When it became clear that it would be a collaborative painting tool, Jim Bos and Gijs Frieling – the project leader and state architect – asked us whether it would be possible to use it for the opening ceremony of the building,” Moniker recalls. This request had a massive impact on the project, turning it into something which needed to function in real-time, pushing the limits of what is currently possible in mobile browsers.
The result is Painted Earth; a collaborative painting tool with a canvas as big as the planet. “We use the location services of your phone to drop ink wherever you are,” Moniker explains, “by walking around you are visualising your own movement. One big collaborative action painting is the result.”
Users interact with the tool by visiting the project’s website on a mobile. Once in the web application, you can begin drawing simply by walking: walk fast and the lines transform into drops, stand still and the ink will begin to pool and bleed. “When you go out with a group, the collaborative image is synced between devices in real-time and up to 50 people can draw simultaneously in one area,” adds Studio Moniker. Once a painting is complete, it stays in that area forever.
In terms of how Moniker would like people to embrace the project, the studio envisions groups seeking out new areas to draw in. “It’s really nice to draw the first stroke in an empty area,” it points out, “we are also curious to see whether groups of people will team up to make more complex drawings together.”
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.