May Day Night

May Day is here and Occupy Wall Street and groups around the country are calling for a general strike. John Emerson of Social Design Notes wanted to contribute “but had a hard time getting my head around a message.”

“In recent years,” he wrote on his blog “May Day protests in NYC have centered around the rights of immigrants. In the past, May Day has commemorated the Haymarket affair, demanded an eight-hour work day, celebrated the dignity of workers, protested globalization, and more recently, highlighted the precarious nature of a “flexible” workforce when the social safety net is ever more frayed. But how to reconcile all this with the many messages of Occupy and a general strike?”

He decided to focus on form and process instead of a specific message, “to depict the expression of power — not to mention getting out together on a bright spring day. Emerson’s initial idea was to script a crowd scene of characters generated from a random combination of heads, hats, bodies, etc. “I found a bit of javascript that lets the user draw on a web page then figured out how to post the drawing as an image file to the server. I intentionally made the radius of the pen good and thick so the drawings couldn’t be too precious and would have a consistent, low-rez look. I used the same tool to draw some of the type as well. With the script in place, I commissioned my fist few drawings via Mechanical Turk. Originally, I wanted to depict a crowd of protesting people, but nearly everyone turned in the same stick figure. As much fun as this was for me, I heard from the contributing artists just how much fun it was for them — another nice surprise.”

See and download it here.

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