Ten Thousand Cents

Ten Thousand Cents, 2008

Drawn by 10000 anonymous artists, Custom software, Variable Size


"Ten Thousand Cents" is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon's Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase are all $100. The work is presented as a video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, "crowdsourcing," "virtual economies," and digital reproduction.


Collection Period: 2007/11 - 2008/03

Total paid labor: 10000 cents

Number of countries involved: 51

  Country Avg. Time Spent/User Percent Unique Visitors
1 United States 00:02:48 83.35%
2 India 00:11:32 75.31%
3 China 00:23:52 10.61%
4 Canada 00:01:57 93.88%
5 Philippines 00:10:05 60.00%
6 Egypt 00:31:54 3.12%
7 United Kingdom 00:01:24 93.75%
8 Germany 00:01:51 76.92%
9 Netherlands 00:01:11 100.00%
10 Poland 00:02:29 75.00%


Video Documentation - 02:15
+ YouTube | + High Resolution (720x480) Quicktime video

Section close ups - 01:20


+ See more pieces



Purchase Prints

Reproductions available for purchase at $100ea. Signed edition of 10000. Dimensions: Approximately (6.14 × 2.61 in ≅ 156 × 66 mm), the size of US $100 bill. Prints are color laser on Mohawk Superfine Eggshell White paper.
All proceeds will be donated to the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project (Formerly known as the $100 laptop). To learn more about OLPC project, please see this presentation by Nicholas Negroponte.






Ten Thousand Cents at Ars Electronica.


Creativity Magazine.


Ten Thousand Cents at Web 2.0 Expo exhibition in the Gray Area Gallery.


TenThousandCents.com is launched.




-How did you get all 10000 drawings?

We posted tasks on Amazon's Mechanical Turk site. Anonymously, 10000 artists worked on drawing pieces of a $100 bill. and we paid one cent per piece (total $100).


-What is Mechanical Turk?

Click here to learn more about Mechanical Turk.


-How long did it take to gather all drawings?

It took almost 5 months. (2007 November to March 2008)


-Wow I want to buy a print. Can I?

Yes. Click here to learn more about how to purchase prints.


-What are you guys going to do with all that money?

All procedes from the sales of bill prints will go to the One Laptop Per Child project, to "empower the children of developing countries."


-Are you guys officially part of the OLPC project?



-How did you put everything together?

We used a few different tools to create everything. The interfaces were done with Flash, the movies with After Affects, most everything else was done with Processing, and of course, the eyes and hands of thousands of workers online.




Ten Thousand Cents was initiated by Aaron Koblin and Takashi Kawashima. Aaron and Takashi thank 10000 anonymous artists who participated in this project despite being uninformed of the ultimate goal. Yasuhiro Tsuchiya always provides us with great music, and it is very much appreciated. The artists also thank Amazon.com, Inc. for not denying us access to their Mechanical Turk.

Aaron Koblin is a media designer and artist focused on the creation and visualization of human systems. Currently working out of San Francisco, California, Aaron transforms large abstract data sets into humanly contextualized information. In doing so, he hopes to raise at least as many questions as he answers. Aaron received the 1st. Place Science Visualization Award from the U.S. National Science Foundation, and has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York in addition to other exhibitions and festivals worldwide. He received his MFA from the department of Design | Media Arts at UCLA before undertaking visualization projects at MIT and Stanford Universities.

Takashi Kawashima is a designer and media artist living in San Francisco. His work explores the re-contextualizing of commonplace items to create new awareness of the mundane. Takashi was featured as one of ten emerging artists in the March/April 2004 issue of RES magazine in an article entitled "Who's Now/Who's Next." His work has been shown in the Tokyo Type Directors Club Annual Exhibition, Ars Electronica, Siggraph and the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival. Takashi received his BA in Environmental Information with a Dean's Award from Keio University in Japan and MFA in Design | Media Arts from UCLA in the U.S. He is the recipient of a Japanese Government overseas study program grant for artists and a licensed chef in Japan.




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2008 Aaron Koblin + Takashi Kawashima