DIGITAL ART : A NEW WAY TO CONSUME ART ?

TeamLab, Japan

Rising since a few years now, digital art is expanding and presents new techniques. But how does it revolutionize the Art world ?

Digital art, or 2.0 Art

Even though the word “digital” makes us think about the  year 2000,  digital art goes back a bit further, during the sixties. It includes a few distinctive features such as virtual reality,  augmented reality,  audiovisual media, generative and interactive art. Let’s not forget the appearance of Net-art, the presence of digital photography and robotic art. We can summarize it into 4 genres :

  • generative work created through a software containing the work’s rules development (shape, colors, speed…), then applying them in a repetitive way or random way.
  • interactive work permits the visitor to interact with the work in order to modify it through sensors, allowing them to give in real time data to the projection’s pilot software. 
  • physical work such as 3D impression or any other technique that comes from digital.
  • altered photo/video thanks to new techniques :  collage, edit, special effects…

When Artificial Intelligence enters the game

Quite controversial, A.I starts blending with Art. A.I has its own part since it’s really criticized and some artists would refuse to consider it as digital art.

You may have heard about the collectif Obvious, who happens to be behind the first auction sale of an Artificial Intelligence work.
Their goal is to share their vision of A.I and its implantation in our society.

Called Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, the portrait was sold 432 500 dollars at Christie’s in October 2018. The painting was created from a data base made up of 15,000 portraits from between the 14th and 20th century. The painting depicts a man in a dark coat and a white collar, with indecipherable traits.

Portrait of Edmond de Belamy, Obvious

Members of the collectif Obvious see themselves as conceptual artists whose main goal is to legitimate A.I Art.

And that’s where the ligitimacy of the word “artist” intervenes and  annoys some people. Can we consider coders as artists ? Or cheaters ? The debate is red hot in this elitist milieu. But isn’t it rewarding to open ourselves to a new form of Art ? Knowing that either way, it’s not like A.I was about to steal traditional artists’ thunder.

NFT fever

With digital art comes an essential question : how do we know if a work is authentic ? That’s where NFT come in handy. NFT or Non-fungible token  are rising in the Art world.

According to Wikipedia : A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to represent items such as photos, videos, audio and other types of digital files. Access to any copy of the original file, however, is not restricted to the buyer of the NFT. While copies of these digital items are available for anyone to obtain, NFTs are tracked on blockchains to provide the owner with a proof of ownership that is separate from copyright. But how does it work ?

Have you ever heard about the  Nyan Cat GIF ? Do you know that it was sold for almost 600 000 dollars ? Even if it is a GIF still present on the Internet, free and accessible to all. But what makes its authenticity ? NFT. Acting as an authenticity certificate, this token represents the buyer’s property title. This is where it opposes 2 teams : the one who finds it stupid, and the one investing in it. Quite controversial because of how recent it is, this type of cryptocurrency is revolutionizing the way people consume Art. Artists and galleries use cryptocurrency based technologies to confederate a rare value to digital art. And the digital art market shoots up through the ranks.

Nyan cat

Indeed, since the creation of sales’ platforms in 2018, sales are exploding. Just in February, there were 91 millions of digital art work sales with NFT. It’s almost three times what was sold on these platforms since their creation. 

However, although some people are happy with this new tool, others are worried about frauds. After all, it is quite easy for a buyer to think they’re buying an art piece to an artist while they’re actually buying from a fraudster looking to make some money. It’s still early to predict how NFT will  evolve. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

In conclusion, we find a sort of duality between a new digital art that wants to get democratised (A.I) and on the contrary a digital art that wants to add a new value with an authenticity certificate. Or, are they both just a new way of monetizing Art ?

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