Digitalization doesn’t only change society, but also art – and practically all areas of it. In this sense, digital change doesn’t only mean technological advancement, but also the radical change of an entire generation.
In the following text I’ve compiled 12 terms that helped to shape the year gone by and that might also serve to indicate what we can expect from the coming one.
01 I Beta Manifest
What will the digitalized art market of the future look like? The Beta Manifest – – a concept developed by BVDG (the association of German galleries and art dealers) in cooperation with the platform Independent Collectors – consists of ten theses dedicated to current digitally dominated trends in the art market. It takes a look into the future while simultaneously remaining eternally incomplete – in digital Beta-Form.
02 I BlockchainEver more art sales are taking place online. As a consequence, the requirement for reliable certificates of authenticity is growing all the time. The latest systems for acquiring digital artworks are based on a licensing agreement under the use of Bitcoin technology. All works are furnished with an electronic signature that is legally recognized as an original signature and as a form of proof that the file existed at a given point in time. The authenticity of these works is mathematically verifiable and the right of resale is exclusive. The virtual ownership is limited, both technically and legally to the respective owner. The owner of the usage rights is registered in a decentralized Bitcoin blockchain, the rights to the work being assigned through a Bitcoin transaction. Digital artworks thus become objects to collect and to trade without materializing. An example of a company working in this field is the Berlin based ascribe.io that operates a system licensing artworks through the blockchain as well as offering a good deal more.
03 I Digital Art
… is a collective term for art that is digitally produced, meaning that it is made on a computer or is based on digitally coded information. However, the tem would also cover works of art in non-digital coded form, such as a handwritten digital code. The development of early computers in the 1960s brought with it the first artists seeking to use the technology as an artistic medium. Very quickly a subculture developed that extended beyond the usual art channels. The variety and the quality of works is extremely broad and a precise definition of the term is disputed to this day. Terms such as Computer-generated Art, Computer Art, Interactive Art, Cyber Art, Software Art, Net Art, Digital Media, etc. are all accepted synonyms for Digital Art. One thing is sure: The Digital Art of TODAY is the art about which history will be written TOMORROW!
04 I Generation Y
The term Generation Y (Why?) includes people born between 1980-1995, and denotes those that question the status quo and who want to change the way in which we work. They are also termed Digital Natives. Self-assured, they seek a work-life balance and are less willing to compromise than their preceding generation. In the world of work the key concepts are self-determination and the rejection of rigid hierarchies: The Generation Y is motivated and tech-savvy. It seeks to think and trade independently and is both mobile and flexible. Meaningfulness, transparency and sustainability are the core values that will come to the fore in this generation. At work, personal evolution is rated more highly than career, and happiness and satisfaction placed before money.
05 I Internet of Things
This term – shortened to IoT or IdD (German: Internet der Dinge) – describes the networking of intelligent devices (domestic devices, sensors, etc.) with the virtual world of the Internet. The aim is to close the information gaps between the real world and its virtual counterpart. So, for example, miniaturized computers – so-called ‘wearables’ – transfer information relating to the condition of the wearer in the real world (e.g. relating to ageing) for further processing on the net and with other devices. Certain ‘things’ that were previously controlled by the individual can now, with the help of the Internet, be self-regulated. The field of application is thereby enlarged, from a general supply of information, to automatic ordering of goods and services, to the generation of warnings and emergency functions. In the future, an intelligent fridge will automatically place orders for groceries and speak to us about our dietary requirements and shopping choices. Mark Leckey cleverly translated this idea in his installation ‘GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction’.
06 I Immaterial Art
In order to be able to understand Immaterial Art, it must be asserted in advance that NOTHING on this earth exists without its opposite. The artistic realization of Immaterial Art always involves an attempt to free ‘something’ from its materiality. The origin of Immaterial Art can therefore – in anticipation of Conceptual Art– be determined as the monochromatic, ironically titled pictures of the Parisian ‘Salon des Arts Incohérents’ from 1883. As a consequence, the critique of the object-status of the artwork became one of the central themes of the art of the 20th Century. It made frequent appearances (e.g. in Kasimir Malewitsch’s ‘Black Square’ 1915), but became particularly virulent in the late 1960s (e.g. Yves Klein’s exhibition ‘Le Vide’ in the Parisian gallery of Iris Clert) and in the 1970s with Fluxus, Performance, Video Art and Conceptual Art. Many digital works are also immaterial (e.g. Internet Art). For collectors this means that previously held collection criteria need to be rethought as themes such as longevity, authenticity and retention of value are no longer valid within this context. The cooperation of the collector in the conservation of his or her immaterial commodities will be required and is ultimately the guaranty for their survival over time. The strictest application of the subject of Immaterial Art can perhaps be seen in the performances of Tino Sehgal.
07 I Artificial Intelligence
… is a sub-area of Information Technology that is concerned with the automation of intelligent behavior. Will artificial robots play the next key role in the evolution of the species? Already today, according to a survey by the Marplan Research Institute (2015), almost 50% of Germans believe that artificial intelligence is regularly applied to our everyday lives. Awareness, the way that the brain works, intelligence, and above all creativity, have yet to be fully explored in terms of their function, making their recreation anything but simple. One thinks back to Microsoft’s chatbot ‘Tay’, that had to be taken offline in March 2016, just a few hours after coming into being on Twitter, after she applied her learning capabilities to the spreading of racist propaganda. Artists are also engaged with the question of how Artificial Intelligence reacts if tasks can’t be resolved with logic and science alone and emotion enters the equation. Roman Lipski and Florian Dohmann, members of the Digital Art-Kollektivs YQP, explore these questions – as does Adi Hösle , who, with his Brain Painting Machine has already provided many people with the opportunity of painting pictures via a brain-computer interface.
08 I Art Law 2.0
In the course of the rapid developments in the areas of Web 2.0 and Social Media it is not only the new sales and marketing opportunities offered by the Internet that play a decisive role, but also the legal questions to which they give rise. In fact, digitalization has required significant, and at times still ongoing, changes to the legal system. With business models such as online sales for example, cancellation rights and rights of competition need to be considered. If, for example, galleries place artworks or images of private-view guests online, then certain copyright laws, or the rights of an individual to their own image, need to be taken into account. Also the fast distribution of content across social platforms should, at least in the commercial sector, follow the basic legal framework of copyright law, to prevent expensive claims for damages from the outset.
09 I Online-Art-Market
The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2016 published by the British specialist insurers, highlights a number of key figures that make the shift in the art market somewhat clearer. In the fourth annual report of its type, the document is concerned, above all, with the trends in direct art purchasing and the various different types of online platforms. The study examines what people buy, how much they spend, and existing market barriers. The results, based on answers given by 672 international art buyers, show a growth in the online art market of 24%, with turnover of $3.27 billion. That equates to 6% of the overall art market, which has a reported total volume of $63.8 billion. The prognosis for the future is of further growth, with turnover volumes set to rise to $ 9.58 billion by 2020.
10 I Pokémon GO
Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game, in which players in the real world catch, battle, and train fantasy creatures (Pokémon). The player is informed via GPS smartphone recognition of the location of Pokémon in their vicinity. The success of the game drew new target groups into the art world globally. Monopol, for example, reported that both the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Getty Museum posted photos of the Pokémon that could be caught inside their museums. Pokémon were also sighted in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and in the Louvre in Paris. Pokémon are increasingly used as a motif in fine art. In addition, the Greenpeace Magazin reported of the Syrian artist Khaled Akil, who placed the little Pokémon in front of destroyed houses in Aleppo in order to prevent the war in him homeland from being forgotten.
11 I Post-Internet-Art
Post-Internet Art is not committed to a clearly definable style, but rather to a certain attitude or state of mind that reflects the way that the Internet functions. Artists working under this term utilize, as if it were self evident, the latest software or devices such as 3D printers, and use these to create pictures, films and objects. The Internet thus serves as an inexhaustible pool of material, just like the high-gloss illusory worlds of advertising and fashion. Post-Internet artists frequently use industrially fabricated products, removing their hand from the making process. In the foreground is the concept or the possibility of sharing photos or exhibition views of works with an internationally networked community on Facebook Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram. The German-American artist Marisa Olson is recognized as the founder of the term Post-Internet, having initially used it in 2008. Since 2010 other terms are also in circulation which more or less relate to the same aesthetic thrust of an international young art movement: ‘New Aesthetic’, ‘Circulationism’, ‘Tumblerism’, ‘Radicals’ or ‘Meme Art’.
12 I Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality (VR) is the big subject of the future, attracting artists, designers and filmmakers in equal measure, as well as industry and the broader economy. VR can be an element of physically accessible, software-controlled installations and projections. The majority of artistic spaces have sculptural and architectural aspects that can be experienced through text, graphics, animation, language and even the physical senses of the human body. In navigating virtual spaces we experience as avatars fascinating new dreamworlds. VR is a new medium in the art world – located somewhere between Game and Film. Virtual Reality opens up new models not only for artists but also for the creative economy. Already today, the cultural consumer is able, with the aid of VR headsets, to visit museums, churches, concert halls and the opera, independent of time and place.