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Innovating the Future of Film in the Art World – David Gryn interview with Amy Tam – I AM FILM

In Amy Tam, Art Film, Daata, Daata Editions, daataeditions, David Gryn, Film, I AM FILM, Uncategorized, Video on 15/03/2018 at 10:03 pm
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Elliot Dodd, The Doctor, 2018

David Gryn is the founding director of Daata Editions, which aims to empower artists working with digital mediums, including video, sound and web via commissioning moving image and sound artworks by leading international artists. He has been the curator of the Film and Sound program at Art Basel in Miami Beach—the largest art fair in the world—for the last seven years.

For the 2018 edition of Independent New York, Sound and Video exhibiting in New York from the 8th-11th March, Gryn was selected to curate a series of artist-created video and sound experiences. The collaboration between Independent and Spring Place featured works by a range of international artists exploring digital mediums, including; Larry Achiampong, Lynda Benglis, BREYER P-ORRIDGE, Keren Cytter, Ed Fornieles, Leo Gabin, David Lynch, Laurel Nakadate, Puppies Puppies, Torbjørn Rødland, and Saya Woolfalk.

I AM FILM Founder and CEO, Amy Tam, interviewed David to discuss Daata Editions and its unique business model, that is successfully supporting and commissioning video artists within the art world.

David, how would you describe Daata Editions (Daata)?

DG: It’s an online marketplace for moving image and sound artworks. My goal is to grow the audience and awareness for this medium, while allowing prospective buyers to access the artworks at any time, from anywhere. Daata has more than 70 artists, with over 300 artworks commissioned for the platform, and all works are released entirely online. The platform works with both leading and emerging artist talents, prominent curators, writers, collectors, art fairs, art magazines, and various art world collaborators including; Amalia Ulman, Takeshi Murata, Tracey Emin, Chloe Wise, Jon Rafman, Rashaad Newsome and many more.


Why did you choose to create this type of platform?

DG: Although it’s changing, the art market still tends to prefer object-based artworks. There’s a sense of resistance in galleries, auction houses, and art fairs; to normalise the type of works Daata commissions, because it’s unclear how to make them as commercial as more traditional mediums. People recognise that the industry is moving in this direction and they talk about it, but they won’t engage with it in its current position.

I’m trying to treat it as normally as a painting or sculpture now, instead of waiting for the “right moment.” It’s easy to show digital artworks online, so I started Daata as an answer to that problem. It was about how to encourage all the players—the institutions, the curators, the collectors, the audiences—to treat it more seriously. To me, the solution was the possibility of pushing forward one version of a marketplace, like you might open up a gallery, but online. It is a new way of distributing and showing artists’ moving image, sound, and web-based work. I didn’t realise I was ahead of the curve until I set it up.

How would you explain the way the Daata business model works?

DG: We pay the artists up front and then we distribute the artworks at a price, and we sell the work and give the artist a royalty. It’s inherently structured as a self-sustaining economy. Currently, it’s still philanthropic in its process, and we pay all the artists. If we haven’t paid an artist, we have an equal royalty share.

The business model is effectively saying there’s a value to this work. I’ve realised, to my chagrin, that almost everyone who treats art seriously generally does so when there’s a price point. Art that is for free is very difficult to quantify for almost everybody—other than the artist. I really do value art that isn’t necessarily commercial. But with Daata, I am trying to put forward a case that you can actually “have your cake and eat it, too.” You can have this work viewed and seen for free, and you can also collect it, buy it, and have the HD version for you to play whenever and on whatever device.

Works start at 100-200 dollars, and they go up incrementally until the maximum price of around 6000 dollars, in the video section. This method encourages early purchase, and the longer a work is for sale, the more it grows in value. We’re not trying to set up an auction model, a resale model, or a celebrity artist model. No matter how prominent the artist, the value starts out pretty flat across all parts of the site.

“I can’t base our website on the most famous, most money-making artist, because then it will start becoming a website dominated by the market forces. I wanted to make it a website dominated by the artwork and the artist.”

If you get in early, you can buy major artists and future major artists at a low price, which is exciting. With Daata, we’ve established A model, not THE model. It’s just one way of doing it.

Do you think artists or gallerists (decision-makers) have more power in the sale of art today?

DG: The power of the art fair is dominant. It’s very tilted towards the market position of what pays and drives an art fair’s business model. Galleries are trying to take things into their own hands to change it, but it’s hard. The problem with the relationship with the auction house and the art fair is; it tilts it to top dollar profit, whereas, if you’re supporting all sorts of artists in your gallery business model, you’re interested in the artist and the outcomes—it’s not always about how much money each artist makes.

It’s about how you put that work into a museum and how you grow that artist’s career. That’s often the gallery’s investment—time and costs, and that’s shattered by the art fair model, with many art fairs happening almost every month. Some galleries don’t operate with a great brain anymore, because they have to keep reacting to the next art fairs. The art world needs to alter and turn on its axis better.

Do you think the resistance in the marketplace comes from insufficient demand for these types of works or from the entities controlling what’s available—like art fairs and galleries?

DG: I think it has to be treated as a central cornerstone of an art fair, not as a hidden away sideshow. In my role as Curator of Film & Sound at Art Basel in Miami Beach, I work very closely with Art Basel to try and make showing artists moving image and sound, very large and dynamic—luckily, they understand the need to empower the medium.

How does Daata fit into this context?

DG: I think there needs to be many outlets like Daata who can put their resources into supporting artists who make work, and distribute it. I keep coming across entities who want to take over the world, and I just want to take over the project I’m doing and make it the best I possibly can, within finite boundaries and borders. I don’t see what I’m doing with Daata as better or hierarchical, I just see it as being part of an art world jigsaw puzzle.

What has the demand been like in terms of sales of works?

DG: It’s great, it just needs to be more. It’s currently more sales than I’ve ever made in my part of the art world before. But to actually get to a point where there is more revenue to pay the next round of artists and not needing seed funding, it’s still got a couple of years to go. I saw the first two to three years as building and positioning within the art world. I have conversations with certain collectors repeatedly, some people are buying anonymously. There have been some people starting to buy the work more regularly that I don’t know, and they’re coming back.

How has the artist response been in terms of outcomes for the artists commissioned?

DG: The brief for making the artwork is very open and aims to enable the artist to take risk and be experimental. They have said we’ve made them feel more like they’ve been able to try out new things, and that’s been a nice challenge for some artists. They’ve said it’s informed much of their next body of work. Many of them have been shown in artist exhibitions, galleries, museums and art fairs.

As a curator, how do you get introduced to artists?

DG: We don’t have applications. We’re aware of artists in the art world, because I get to see lot of new artists and artworks from art fair prospects, art galleries, artists and so on, and I always look. I also don’t know everything, so it’s also a lot of word of mouth. In the ecosystem of artists, curators, and collectors—we trust each other’s opinions. Not all artists are the right ones for this kind of project. It isn’t a platform for a Hollywood filmmaker to dabble in making an artwork, unless they consider themselves an artist and they’re in the artist/art world ecosystem. It isn’t a platform for all.

However, there’s always room for the quirky collaboration. I have just started distributing a virtual reality project, that is working with several artists to make a composite VR artwork with several different artists in it. We’re willing to take that risk with certain people and projects —as I need to dip my toe into unchartered territories sometimes, just to keep things fresh and open to new potentials.

What would you say have been the main challenges since you started Daata?

DG: My greatest challenge is creating an understanding that this is a very normal medium, and trying to communicate that. I would say everything is a challenge, so it’s exciting. That’s why I set this up—to make a difference within a medium. I try to have a balanced program between artists who are both males and females and across backgrounds. I think about that deeply, so it’s not just a trigger reaction process of signing up the artist who put their hands up first; that’s an easier and lazy way of operating in the art world.

In terms of unexpected positive outcomes, what have you learned in the last three years?

DG: There’s lots of positive things. I don’t see my work just about how great the outcomes are for me. It’s about a project that has the best outcomes for as many people in the process as possible, and that’s always been my interest. That’s where I’m happiest. I guess it’s like I’m always looking under the stone to see what’s there, to make things better. When I work with organisations as dominant as Art Basel, I still always look to see what could make them or my project better for all parties involved. The true and integrity driven people in the art world that I work with, understand collaboration and mutual support for each other. They realise that we’re in the same game together to enhance a better world for art world artists, audience activity, and cultural pursuit.

What is working or not working about the way things work in the film industry, and how is that in contrast or comparison to Daata?

DG: I see the artwork made by an artist as an artwork and the film work made by a filmmaker is a film work. I don’t see a hybridity and a way the two work together. I still say there are many great filmmakers who are great artists—but their art is making film, whereas, the artist makes artwork. An artist will generally make an artwork without a financial position and a filmmaker will probably not make a film unless it’s got funding.

However brilliant they are as filmmakers, a film doesn’t get made because of the costs of the production, whereas an artist can often make an artwork without anyone else involved. If you’re going to make an artwork, you’ve got to make it exist to be an artist. You can’t then call yourself an artist if you haven’t got an artwork. It just doesn’t add up.

In terms of how I work with artists in Daata: I commission based on the reputation of the artist and knowledge of their past work.

“I go into the process trusting the artist to deliver the artwork as they wish. I don’t need drawing boards and proposals, as I believe in the potential of the artist to make the best decisions for their work and aim for outcome that they demand of and for their work.”
I think there are so many filmmakers who are brilliant, and to cast doubt upon them for being an artist is wrong. Usually, I’d say they’re just a great filmmaker. There are just a few that go beyond just being a great filmmaker and I believe they are genuine artists. People like Andrei Tarkovsky, David Lynch, John Waters, and Sophia Coppola. Then, there are people who successfully cross mediums like Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch. Sometimes, the artist becomes the Hollywood filmmaker and can lose the strength of their moving image works as an artist. I think it’s hard once you have those budgets and the media spotlight to be the same brilliant artist. The value in an artist who works alone is often in the raw edges, the roughness and the idea generation. Once that dries out and is dominated by the sheen of wealth, it can lose the interest of the greater art world.

For further information on Daata Editions visit: http://daata-editions.com. You can follow Daata Editions on Instagram and Facebook (@daataeditions).

Follow I AM FILM on Instagram (iamfilmofficial). #IAMFILM and Join their list to receive news and views by the Masters of Film. 




Independent Features: Sound and Video Curator David Gryn on Championing Non-Object-Based Art

In Daata, Daata Editions, daataeditions, David Gryn, Elizabeth Dee, Elliot Dodd, Independent, keren cytter, Leo Gabin, Spring, spring place, Uncategorized on 01/03/2018 at 12:26 pm

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For the 2018 edition of Independent New York, sound and video curator David Gryn has programmed a series of artist-created video and sound experiences that will take place throughout the duration of the fair. A collaboration between Independent and Spring Place, the program will feature works by a range of international artists exploring digital mediums, including: Larry Achiampong, Lynda Benglis, BREYER P-ORRIDGE, Keren Cytter, Ed Fornieles, Leo Gabin, Laurel Nakadate, Puppies Puppies, Torbjørn Rødland, and Saya Woolfalk.


Based in London, Gryn has a long history of working with sound, video, and digital media: in 2001, he founded Artprojx, which has collaborated with numerous institutions worldwide to screen and promote artists’ film and video projects. He is now the director Daata Editions, an innovative platform that commissions video, sound, and web-based works, which can be viewed and acquired as digital downloads. Launched in 2015, Daata Editions has since commissioned work by more than 65 artists, and Gryn has forged a path as a tireless champion for bringing sound and video art into the conversation.


No Panic Baby – Leo Gabin (Peres Projects, Elizabeth Dee, VNH)

“I don’t really see myself as a curator, more as a facilitator,” Gryn says. “What I try to do with any project that I work on is think about how to empower the artist, or the gallery, or the audience in some way.” In conceiving of the sound and video program for Independent, he thought about “how to make the art fair experience work for the artists and the mediums that don’t always get featured at fairs. Often the artworks that I show get left behind because galleries, in the end, are more comfortable showing works that are object based. And it’s been a longstanding commitment of mine to try to make sure that I work with galleries to show artworks that they might not find as easy to put into a booth. It’s vital that mediums that don’t have the same marketplace presence get some kind of strong exposure, so what I try to do is think about how to show them so that they can create a dialogue with the audience and the environment.”

Daata Editions was founded to respond to a similar problem: it came out of a desire “to invest in the artists and in the mediums, to find ways to support them.” According to Gryn, Daata Editions was inspired by “the belief that the art market doesn’t yet know how to handle digital media. After 15 years of working with artists’ film, video, and sound works, I felt there was a need to tackle not only the art market, but the question of how to support and empower artists so that they’re able to keep making these types of works.”

The works selected by Gryn for Independent include both Daata Editions commissions—including the debut of a new work, the six-part video  The Doctor  by London-based artist Elliot Dodd, described as a “meditation on bodily exertion, chemical energy, and disoriented calm” —and works from participating galleries. Gryn’s goal, he says, was to create a “cohesive program” that brings together Independent, Spring Place, and the galleries. For Gryn, it’s important that the program complements rather than competes with the galleries’ presentations: when invited to work with Independent on the sound and video program, “my first reaction was to make sure that the galleries in the fair feel good about what’s being programmed,” he says. “That is vital to my thinking about working with art fairs: how do you make the people who have already been selected to participate in a fair feel included in the other projects that happen around them, because they’re already throwing in so much of their own energies to be there. It’s really important to make sure that the galleries are part of the conversation.”

Independent New York 2018
PRIVATE VIEWING (by invitation):
Thursday, March 8

Friday, March 9: 12–7PM
Saturday, March 10: 12–7PM
Sunday, March 11: 12–6PM

LOCATION: Spring Studios, 50 Varick Street, New York


Independent and Spring Launch a Program of Artist-Created Audio and Film Installations, Selected by Curator David Gryn


Independent Features: Sound and Video Curator David Gryn on Championing Non-Object-Based Art


Institute 193 Playlist in the Independent & Spring Video & Sound Program
Curated by David Gryn

193 Playlist includes: Georgiana B. Pettway and Creola B. Pettway, Three Legged Race, Street Gnar, Idiot Glee, The Smacks, Lonnie Holley, Jules Trakker (Resonant Hole), Ben Sollee, Silas House, Matt Duncan, Anna & Elizabeth, Ben Durham and Robert Beatty Jeanne Vomit-Terror, Rayna Gellert, Phillip March Jones, ATTEMPT, Morgan O’Kane Groove, Merchants, Louis Zoellar Bickett II


Elliot Dodd, The Doctor, just released on Daata Editions

In Daata, Daata Editions, daataeditions, David Gryn, Elliot Dodd, Independent, Uncategorized on 26/02/2018 at 11:49 am

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Daata Editions are delighted to release the latest artist commission of Elliot Dodd’s The Doctor, with six individual works and one special composite work that features all six works.

‘The Doctor’ forms a six part meditation on masculine bodily exertion, chemical energy and disorientated calm. Alternating between fetishised burnt rubber and fluorescent sugary highs; the films comprise a rhythmic diagram of the palpitating condition of now.

Dodd works with surfaces and techniques which embody the spirit of the global techno-macho-man. He designs sculptural objects, drawings, and moving images that reconfigure the languages of desire, confidence and authority into a new fluid, composite structure.

Recent exhibitions include: ‘Flickering Boundaries’, Madein Gallery, Shanghai; ‘Steps to Aeration’, Tanya Leighton, Berlin; ‘The Manbody’, Zabludowicz Collection, London and ‘Virtually Real’ Royal Academy of Arts, London.


Daata Editions

Daata Editions at Independent NY & Spring Place

In Daata, Daata Editions, Independent, NADA, New York, Scott Reeder, spring place, The Armory Show, Uncategorized on 18/02/2018 at 9:36 am

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Independent New York and Spring Place Launch a Programme of Artist-Created Audio and Film Installations, Selected by Curator David Gryn, Director of Daata Editions. 

Independent, March 8-11, 2018. Spring Studios, 50 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013.

Daata Editions‘ sound and video curator David Gryn is programming a series of immersive audio experiences and film screenings throughout the public spaces of Independent and Spring Place for the duration of Independent New York in March 2018. The new collaborative initiative will be co-hosted by Spring Place at their Sunken Living Room and the programme will feature a selection of audio and video works by artists from the exhibiting galleries and Daata Editions, transforming the experience of the common areas.

Artists to be featured include: Larry Achiampong, Sofie Alsbo, Maria Antelman, Thora Dolven Balke, Cara Benedetto, Lynda Benglis, BREYER P-ORRIDGE, Jake Chapman, Rob Chavasse, Matt Copson, Keren Cytter, Shezad Dawood, Brice Dellsperger, Elliot Dodd, Graham Dolphin, Alexandra Drewchin (eartheater), Tracey Emin, FlucT, Ed Fornieles, Luke Fowler & Sue Tompkins, Leo Gabin, Douglas Gordon, Brent Green, Joseph Grigely, Eloise Hawser, Joachim Koester & Stefan A. Pedersen, Lina Lapelyte, David Lynch, Laurel Nakadate, Rashaad Newsome, Tin Ojeda, Hannah Perry, puppies puppies, Torbjørn Rødland, Scott & Tyson Reeder (feat: The Fall), Ariana Reines, Marina Rosenfeld, Richard Sides, John Skoog, Scott Treleaven, Stephen Vitiello, Saya Woolfalk and more.

Institute 193 – playlist artists: Georgiana B. Pettway and Creola B. Pettway, Three Legged Race, Street Gnar, Idiot Glee, The Smacks, Lonnie Holley, Jules Trakker (Resonant Hole), Ben Sollee, Silas House, Matt Duncan, Anna & Elizabeth, Ben Durham and Robert Beatty, Jeanne Vomit-Terror, Rayna Gellert, Phillip March Jones, ATTEMPT, Morgan O’Kane, Groove Merchants, Louis Zoellar Bickett II

Galleries include: 303 Gallery, Canada, Chapter NY, Elizabeth Dee, Nagel Draxler, Andrew Edlin Gallery & Institute 193, INVISIBLE-EXPORTS, François Ghebaly, The Modern Institute, Carlos / Ishikawa, Neue Alte Brücke, Night Gallery, The Sunday Painter, Air de Paris, Peres Projects, Cheim & Read, Tilton Gallery & Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, untilthen, VI, VII.


Image: Scott Reeder, Nodes, 2017