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Creative Expression Glows In a Crowdsourced Sunset

by Sheron Long on March 14, 2013

Sunset, seen in a photographer's creative expression and contributed to the crowdsourced Virtual Sunset project

The day says adieu in this sunset over the Pacific Ocean in Cambria, California.
© Sheron Long

Shared Creativity

A few years back, standing with friends on the edge of the western world, I caught a glorious sunset in my lens. It was a moment of creative expression as we laughed at pelicans diving for dinner against the glow.

We were about to dive for dinner too, but first we each had to create a tasty dish. Then we feasted on our shared creativity, a kind of friend-sourced dinner.

At work this week, I collaborated on creating our free ebook—50 Dos and DON’Ts for Living and Laughing.  The team lived through the arguments during photo selection (by applying some of the advice in the book), and we laughed a lot. When it was over, there was some of each of us in this team-sourced book.

Shared creativity has been a theme of my life, a great way to stay connected with others. So, when I heard about the Virtual Sunset, created by Studio Tobias Klein, I was intrigued.

Here was an opportunity to create and connect on a bigger scale, really big—like the size of our planet.

The Crowdsourced Sunset

In a three-year project, Tobias Klein is creating the first crowd-sourced choreographed global sunset. It relies on the compilation of sunset images uploaded to his site by people around the world.

Visit Virtual Sunset to see the sunset sites in the collection thus far (and add your own). Click on a pin to see the sunset itself. There’s the one I took in Cambria, California!

World map showing sunsets crowdsourced for the Virtual Sunset project from the creative expression of global photographers

Pins on the world map locate the sunsets crowdsourced for the Virtual Sunset project.
map image © 2013 NASA, TerraMetrics courtesy of Studio Tobias Klein

Klein digitally stores these sunset images, geolocated by time and place. For the installation, he hangs three kilometers of silicone translucent tubing in strips from a rig on the ceiling. He then projects the images in real time onto the tubing. The result? Shared creativity in a three-dimensional artwork that captures the transient nature of a sunset.

Virtual Sunset projecting sunset images crowdsourced from the creative expression of photographers around the world

Translucent tubing hangs in the Virtual Sunset installation, Industry Gallery, Washington DC
photo by Brandon Webster courtesy of Studio Tobias Klein

The installation first appeared at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. It is now on display at the Industry Gallery in Washington, DC, ending on March 20, 2013, the day of the vernal equinox.

At the Industry Gallery, projections from one side of the room show the actual sunset from Washington, DC, while those from the other side show a composite of the crowd-sourced images from the global collection in real time. For example, the sunset taken in Nice, France, at 7:00 pm shows up in the projection at 1:00 pm in DC.

Each future installation will vary based on its physical location and the sunset images that continue to populate the collection.

Strolling Through Creative Expression

Meandering through the tubing in the Virtual Sunset can be meditative, a tangible way to experience collective sunsets as time elapses around the world.

Virtual Sunset projecting sunset images crowdsourced from the creative expression of photographers around the world

Moving through the Virtual Sunset installation at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London
photo by Miyukii Yamanaka courtesy of Studio Tobias Klein

But the experience also invites you to sense the power of creative collaboration—the mix of Tobias Klein’s creative genius in conceiving the project and the creative expression of all those who contributed their sunsets for the global show.

Oh, I see. Shared creativity is people glue.

It binds friendships over dinner.

—It gives common cause at work.

—Even when you don’t know the other people with whom you share your creative expression, you’re connected to them in the moment.

Together with the Virtual Sunset team and galleries, those of us who participated in this project made something bigger than ourselves. Those of us who walked through the glow of the Virtual Sunset got to share real sunsets experienced by others all over the world.

Now that’s collaboration!

Find the thrill of shared creativity in one of these crowdsourcing projects: 


For another article on crowdsourcing, read “Creative Ideas: Dishes Feed a Community Art Project.”

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.


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