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A Google Doc Turns into a Massive Open-Sourced Art Project

(image Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)
(image by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

“MOTHAFUCKIN LIKE how cacasual,” “IS THIS LIVE????? dead Helllllo0o0o0ooo!hi bye,” “ and “add me: +66 666 666 666” (all typed in Comic Sans): these are some of the profundities you’ll currently find while browsing through Art Squad, a Google Doc that anyone on the internet can edit.

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From “Art Squad” (all screenshots by the author)

“I wondered if it would be possible to create a community out of a single document,” artist Matthew BrittonArt Squad’s creator, tells Hyperallergic. “I like to consider alternative uses for the online tools we use every day.” This virtual art community uses Google Docs’ shareable word processing platform to create an endlessly evolving digital graffiti free-for-all. “The project started with a blank document, with no clear intention,” Britton says. “There were no guidelines given to users as I wanted the narrative to grow autonomously.”

Anyone who wants to can add GIFs, images, or text to this open-source document — at least, while it’s still up and running. Two days after it launched, on November 21, Google removed Art Squad from Google Docs, claiming it violated the organization’s Terms of Service. At that point, Art Squad had been averaging about 50 participants at any one time. After Britton asked for it to be reviewed, the project was reinstated, but as one user wrote in red letters at the end of the doc, “maybe this will be blocked again.”

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Art Squad currently has a mustard-colored background and resembles a snapshot of the internet’s total visual noise. Sparkly pot leafs, dancing aliens, stock photos of waffles, and laugh-crying emojis abound, as do LiveJournal-esque cries into the void (“why cant i be normal? why cant i? i cant. why?”).

“I’ve especially enjoyed how the document title has changed several times, from the original ‘art squad’ to ‘ART SKWAD’ and even to ‘Bart squad’ which was my personal favorite,” Britton says.

Adding to the doc might give you the trollish thrill of anonymously defacing public property. My tasteful additions included hot pink text highlights, a picture of Shrek and his donkey, and this GIF. Because we’re all net artists now, and so can you!

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Check out Art Squad here.

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