Selling Digital

By Charlotte Lee October 2, 2015

The Lumen Prize Winners’ Gala last week wasn’t just about the winners or the art – it was also about one of the most dynamic aspects of the art market – the commercialisation of digital art. Kicking off the session was Greg McMullen, Lawyer and Chief Policy Officer of ascribe.io, a Berlin-based tech company which works to protect the works of digital artists online.

His talk, entitled: Copyright, Copyleft and Copy/Paste: Making the law work for digital artists discussed the issues that surround the Jpeg/MP4 culture. Digital art can be copied with a click, resulting in the work becoming instantly available to the masses. So how do you control digital reproduction? Ascribe’s solution is not to bottle the digital within a physical container – a USB stick or a DVD – in order to sell the work. Instead, they want to allow artists to register their work with them using blockchain technology and then create a certain number of editions that would be available for sale. Lumen is excited to be partnering with Ascribe to create an online sales arm later this year – watch this space!

The next talk was by Elizabeth Markevitch, the founder and CEO of ikonoTV. Broadening the topic of conversation, Elizabeth explored how digital technology can be used to widen access to art. Acknowledging that the art world tends to talk too much, Elizabeth discussed what ikonoTV wants to achieve. Offering a 24/7 streaming of the arts, ikonoTV allows the viewer to pick a playlist – like you would on Spotify – and tune in to view artworks close up. No voice over is provided, instead you are confronted with new ways to view the art works all from the comfort of your own home. Here the image is being left to speak for itself, and ikonoTV is proving just how much power an image holds.

The final segment of the seminar looked at an artist’s perspective on selling digital art. Scott Draves, winner of the Founder’s Prize for Electric Sheep recounted the plethora of ways he had attempted to commercialise his practice. It seems as though Scott has tried it all – selling CD’s, T-shirts and even becoming a ‘VJ’ (you could hire him out to do the visuals at your party!). Yet, the aim of his work couldn’t come through via these methods of commercialisation – his desire to ‘create an artificial life form that is live and animated’ doesn’t really come across on a T-shirt. His answer has been Electric Sheep, a collective intelligence consisting of 450,000 computers that breed together to create generative art, often used as screensavers. Next in the pipeline is Gold Sheep which aims to offer a subscription-based service that would allow a higher quality of experience – as well as providing Scott with welcome income for his work.

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