We now live in a digital era. While artists have always been at the forefront of new media, and incorporating contemporary ideas into their practices, the art world and more specifically art markets are slow to respond. Well new media artists are now receiving critical acclaim and digital works are increasingly making an impact in the art world (as they should!), but how about the actual art market itself? Enter the website s[edition], a revolutionary way to collect and trade art. While purchasing art online is nothing new, this website functions as an online market for purely digital art, and features limited edition works by acclaimed artists such as Damien Hirst, Shepard Fairey, Tracey Emin, and Bill Viola to name a few. These digital works are created by the artists specifically for sale in the s[edition] marketplace, with some pieces going for as little as $8 and some as much as $800. A revolutionary idea indeed! A work by Damien Hirst going for $12 can be owned by anyone, providing an unprecedented level of access to these artists that is usually the domain of the elite. Is this the future of the art market?
There seems to be many flaws with the idea, after all if the work is to remain purely digital then what is it that you are actually purchasing? This is where the idea becomes quite novel. Each work you purchase is added to your virtual vault, where you can download and upload to any digital device. Your artwork also comes with a digital certificate of authenticity signed by the artist and stating all of the details of your purchase including the edition. This becomes important later after the edition has sold out and you can then sell and trade for higher prices, all within the virtual trading market of the online platform. With virtual worlds and marketplaces becoming immensely popular, this is an idea that could easily take off.
At first I was skeptical, but even I have to admit the design and approach is well executed. The immediacy of the transaction and subsequent ownership of a piece of artwork by a renowned artist such as Bill Viola or Fairey, combined with the stylish and user-friendly approach makes buying a piece of digital art a rewarding experience. I now own three works, a Hirst, a Fairey and a Collishaw, all of which can be instantly accessed on my digital device and shared with friends.
The concept brings important questions to light, what qualifies as authentic and unique in the age of digital technology and does the lack of materiality affect your desire to collect and pay for art?
- Sedition: Would you spend £500 on pixelated art? (telegraph.co.uk)
- S[edition] Art: Collect Boldface Artists, Digitally (apartmenttherapy.com)