Art Galleries and Collectors Have Dinosaur Mentality

The New York Times is running an article, Digital Creations Come of Age about Digital Art and some of the little annoying problems that collectors and dealers are facing trying to collect and sell this stuff.

They are looking at this entirely wrong.

In the age of Pirate Bay, unique ownership of anything in digital form is like trying to scoop up water with a net.

For those of you that didn’t go read the article, the author writes about the challenges that artists and collectors face when buying and selling digital art. A piece of digital art, after all, is made up of a bunch of 1’s and 0’s on a computer, disk, or other digital storage device.

If someone makes a work of art with digital methods, what is the original piece of art? If the art is nothing but a file, how can anyone be sure that their copy is unique or original?

The article goes on to say,

Uniqueness is central to the digital art paradox. On one hand, its lack of uniqueness is a fundamental characteristic, part of its originality; on the other hand, the sense of exclusive ownership that uniqueness bestows is what collectors and investors typically want.

The problem that these artists and collectors face only come up because they are trying to apply the old model of art to new media. The “fundamental characteristic” that digital art may not be unique shouldn’t be considered a problem, it is an interesting part of the art, Collectors and Investors be damned.

The whole cycle of museum/collector/investor is one of the reasons why art seems so inaccessible. If you are not “part of the club”, you just won’t get it. Digital art has the potential to reach beyond that art culture, since it can be freely accessible to everyone.

The article ends by kinda indicating this, even if it does go a bit overboard and gives in to the temptation to use hyperbole:

Perhaps the idea of the unique object is becoming obsolete, just as software programs that are only used online rather than owned, are slowly replacing physical software packages that one owns.

Digital art should be embraced for what it is, and should be distributed and shared with the world in the way that most makes sense given the characteristics of the medium.

If this doesn’t fit in to the defined structure that galleries, collectors, and investors have come up with for traditional artistic media, then the party should go on without them, and they can show up to this new party if they want.

If you haven’t yet, go check out the New York Times article here:

Digital Creations Come of Age

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