The art market can easily feel over blown, over hyped, over saturated, stuffed full of money, and of course that’s partly true, though not if you’re an artist or gallery dealing in digital work. As a recent exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, Electronic Superhighway, shows, computer and internet technology has been having an impact on the art world since the mid 60s, but critical acclaim and visionary work doesn’t always open up the high end art of the market, if it finds a market at all.
This is where Daata Editions come in, an online platform featuring the work of 18 artists, with work commissioned specifically for sale over the internet. The first series of works features artists as diverse, talented and striking as Ilit Azoulay, David Blandy, Ed Fornieles, Jon Rafman, Amalia Ulman, Takeshi Murata, Hannah Perry and Chloe Wise. Existing somewhere between eCommerce platform and online gallery, Daata is a new solution to a problems as old as the internet itself ; how to commodify the intangible and create a distribution model that helps artists get paid for the work they do.
Amalia Ulman, White Flag Emoji
What made you want to start Daata?
What we’re trying to do is make Daata as a model for selling digital art, not the model. I wanted Daata to be about how the internet works, how you go into a website and look at art. If you go to an art fair there are 250 galleries. They don’t operate in identical ways but they all do something very similar. They sell art, they show art, and often they represent the artists really well. We aren’t a gallery, we don’t represent artists, but we function somewhat similarly. Daata grew from the logic of a market place for digital forms of artwork, we want to commission artists to make artwork so that artists can get paid.
We need lots of galleries to have a market place. You need thousands of artists to have an art world, you need lots of museums, but when it’s digital everyone wants to be the dominant model, to have the next .com sensation. Daata is simply a model that allows us commission artists to produce work and actually pay them for it. It’s a niche entity, we aren’t trying to be all things too all people.
I want it to be easy. For me the internet seems to be an easy solution not a complicated problem, but I don’t think most of the art world has arrived there yet. The art world still seems to want to resist it because it seems quite complicated.
David Blandy, Moon
Why do you think the art world has been so resistant to the digital art market?
Well I think it’s resistant because in contemporary art there’s a traditional process to things. We know how to buy and sell a good and therefore, we want to carry on buying and selling a good — that makes sense. But if things are online, suddenly a gallery or an artist feels they have less control. To me digital is just another medium, I don’t see it as being any different to oil paintings, or sculptures. But people seem to want to know how it all works or how you fit it into the techno-modern age. But this is the age we’re in, I think the art world’s coming round to it. The digital is a real, natural language now amongst almost everybody making art. But I think the marketplace has to take it seriously, and they struggle with that, because it doesn’t hit the high prices yet. You know you can sell a painting for a million pounds, but digital work sells for a few hundred.
Hannah Perry, The Worse You Feel The Better I Look
What draws you to the artists you work with?
Many of the artists when I was commissioning them, I said I want you to feel that you can experiment and do what you will with the platform, but at least experiment as best as you can. But partly it’s about working with artists who get it. Jon Rafman and Ed Fornieles are two artists who actually gave us a lot of advice when we were setting Daata up, and we commissioned works from them. Chloe Wise is a really passionate advocate of it, she’s up for promoting herself, her work, those artists to me are very special. Not all artists can be and are like that but it’s very helpful. And many artists have to gone on to use the work we commissioned in their future projects and exhibitions.
Chloe Wise, Should I Add An Emoji?
Is it about finding a piece of work that can exist beyond the digital?
To be honest, I kind of go to the artist as opposed to the artwork. We commissioned artists who we trust. The only brief was that it couldn’t be more than three minutes long. But not every artist I know would be right for it and some artists have different ways of working — some artists don’t want their work to be sold, some artists don’t want to make money, some artists do. I wanted to go to people who are rated as artists first.
Florian Meisenberg, Rghwori
What do you think the future of Daata will end up being?
The future is indeterminable, which is nice, because we are evolving. I mean my aim is that this becomes sort of a service a bit like Netflix or Spotify. However, within its own niche, there are other ways to make money out of those things, maybe it’s sponsored? Maybe it’s supported by philanthropy? Maybe it’s connected to museums? We want the work to be available to everybody, not just those who can buy it. I think the digital world is becoming just part of our natural consciousness.
Takeshi Murata, Pumpjack Popeye
Do you think that will only increase as young people, who’ve grown up using computers, become larger parts or the art world and art market?
There are artists who just work using digital as some artists might use paint. There are artists, like Rachel Rose or Ian Cheng, who just treat is as a natural language and medium and I think that’s when it starts looking like artwork, you start believing in it as art, as opposed to you just being wowed by the technical mastery the artist possesses.
I still feel that there’s a resistance though, and I’ve seen it in quite a few art schools where you have video artists being encouraged by their art departments to put their videos into sculptural installations to give it some kind of marketable commodity and I think that’s disappointing. It feels like saying ‘let’s make the work look more complicated and buyable by making it into a sculpture’ than actually just saying, ‘well that work was good enough.’
The fourth set of Season One artworks are released 28 January and can be purchased online at daata-editions.com