The Zoomquilt

A collaborative infinitely zooming painting
Created in 2004

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A project by Nikolaus Baumgarten

Participating illustrators: Andreas Schumann, Eero Pitkänen, Florian Biege, Jann Kerntke, Lars Götze, Luis Felipe, Marcus Blättermann, Markus Neidel, Paul Painter, Oliver Schlemmer, Sonja Schneider, Thorsten Wolber, Tony Stanley, Ville Vanninen

Read about the history of this project

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About the Zoomquilt

The Zoomquilt was created in 2004. The project was started by Nikolaus Baumgarten and emerged from a scene of people creating collaborative artworks over the internet in the early 2000's surrounding the digital art group iCE. On the platform tiles.ice.org people would collaborate on digital paintings. It worked similiar to the surrealist drawing game Cadavre Exquis. An artist would contribute a single tile of a patchwork painting called a "Quilt". They would reserve a spot and get a frame with a border of the neighboring tiles they had to blend their artwork into. The fun of it was to pick up and transform what the other person left and see how the painting evolved in unexpected ways.

One direct inspiration for the Zoomquilt was the Gridcosm project, a similar infinite collaborative picture started in 1997 and still ongoing. On Gridcosm, anybody can contribute, which results in a very anarchic and chaotic picture. The viewer of Gridcosm also wasn't animated back then. The goal of the Zoomquilt was to create a seamlessly animated and coherent illusion. When the Zoomquilt first came out in 2004, it immediately went viral. In 2007 the successor Zoomquilt II was released. Nikolaus Baumgarten revisited the concept again in 2015, together with Sophia Schomberg they created Arkadia, a peaceful and lush botanical fantasy plant world.

Historically, the first infinite zoom animations can be found in the two movies Cosmic Zoom by Eva Szasz and Powers of Ten by Ray and Charles Eames, both 1968 and both based on the 1957 children's book Cosmic View by Kees Boeke, which deals with the relative size of things in the universe.

The Zoomquilt was originally released in Macromedia Shockwave and Flash format, and ported to modern web standarts in 2013 by Nikolaus Baumgarten.