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Digital, Internet and Video Art: An Emerging Market

By: Mike Watson - Updated: 21 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Digital Art Internet Collecting Video

Over the last few years Internet and Digital Arts have emerged as new markets which problems to the collector. In light of the fact that such art forms are to become more common in the coming years collectors would do well to firstly enter the market whilst it is young, and to secondly pioneer ways in which digitally distributed art works might make money.

In some cases digitally produced artworks are printed and sold much as any other prints (see related article: Collecting Prints). In other cases art can be made specifically for the internet, or made to run on programmes displayed in galleries. Like video art, the Katter poses the problem over exactly how ownership might be made of the said artwork. With regard to the former, art collectors and producers now face problems that have hounded the music industry for some years. Namely, how does one set up the means of ownership on a network as ‘free’ (in both senses of the word) and unregulated as the internet? Arguably, one might answer that art collectors and music moguls should buzz off and leave the public to listen to music and look at art without the interference of people wishing solely to make money out of others’ creative efforts. This, however, fails to take into account the fact that many artists working in new mediums have a desire to make money, just as we all do. How, then, is this achieved?

Capitalising on an Elusive Market

One obvious way for artists to make money out of digital, internet and video art is sell objects related to the production of the work. In the case of video art and some forms of internet and digital art, this may involve selling ‘prop’s used in the artworks production. This is a tactic already common to performance and video artists.

Another tactic is to sell either the digital artwork on disk (as video works are sold) or to sell the software used to produce the digital art. In the latter case some artists have made a fortune selling programs to software developers. A canny art collector might make a career out of facilitating the sale of such ‘artworks’!

Some investors have been taking advantage of the internets popularity amongst art lovers in setting up websites which act as windows to artists works. In many cases it is the artist that is charged for putting their work up, although sometimes costs are covered by advertisers. The smart money may well be on formulating a similar site that sells on limited edition digital artworks to the collector directly. For example a video or digital artist could works in a format that could not be copied, in editions of 20, meaning that only twenty copies of the artwork would be in existence. Alternatively, rights to download and print works could be offered for a limited time only. This latter suggestion has been tried out by the BBC in conjunction with artists Gilbert and George and Jake and Dinos Chapman, earlier this year. These works were available free for a limited time only. It is not a great stretch of the imagination to imagine an entrepreneurial artists agent offering the same services for a price.

However the market is developed over time it seems clear that there are opportunities to collect digital artworks both now and in the future. Though in its infancy as an art form, internet and digitally based art could well be an area ripe for investment. Furthermore, the nature of the medium means that development has an international scope!

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