Digitisation & Art

Digitalisation is not only changing society, but also art – in practically all areas. Digital change is not simply technological progress, but also the radical transformation of an entire generation.

In the following, I have compiled 12 terms that shaped the past year and perhaps also point the way for the coming one.

  1. Beta Manifest: What will the digitised art market of the future look like? The Beta Manifesto – a concept developed by the BVDG in cooperation with the Independent Collectors – is dedicated to current digitally dominated trends on the art market with ten theses, ventures a look into the future and at the same time remains eternally unfinished – in digital beta form.
  2. Blockchain: More and more art sales are being made online. As a result, the need for secure certificates of authenticity is growing. The latest systems for acquiring digital artworks are based on a licence agreement using Bitcoin technology. All works are provided with an electronic signature, which by law is also recognised as an original signature and also provides proof that the file was present at the time specified. Its authenticity can be mathematically proven. The right of resale is exclusive. Virtual ownership is technically and legally limited for the respective owner. The owner of the rights of use is registered in a decentralised Bitcoin blockchain. The rights of the work are allocated through a Bitcoin transaction. Digital artworks thus become collectors’ and trade objects without being materialised. The Berlin-based start-up ascribe.io acts as an example with a system that licenses digital artworks through the blockchain and much more.
  3. Digital Art: Is a collective term for art that is produced digitally, i.e. with the computer. It is based on digitally encoded information. However, works in a non-digitally encoded form, such as a handwritten digital code, also belong to the field of digital art. With the development of the first computers in the 1960s, the first artists also began to use the computer as an artistic medium. Very quickly, a subculture developed beyond the usual art channels. The diversity and quality of the works is multifaceted and the clarification of terms is still controversial today. Definitions such as computer-generated art, computer art, interactive art, cyber art, software art, net art, digital media, etc. are considered synonyms for digital art. Digital art of TODAY, is the art about which history will be written TOMORROW!
  4. Generation Y: Generation Y (English: Why?) includes those born between 1980 and 1995, who are known for questioning the old ways and wanting to change the world of work. They are also called digital natives. They self-confidently strive for work-life balance and make fewer compromises than their predecessor generation once did. In the world of work, it is above all about self-determination and the negation of rigid hierarchies. Generation Y is extremely motivated and tech-savvy. They want to think and act independently and also work in a mobile and flexible way. Meaningfulness, transparency and sustainability are values that are more important to this generation – personal development through the job is more important than career or money. 
  5. Internet if Things: The term refers to the networking of intelligent devices (household appliances, sensors, etc.) with the virtual world of the internet. The aim is to close the information gaps between the real and virtual worlds. For example, miniaturised computers, so-called wearables, transmit certain status information of the real world (e.g. about ageing) for further processing in the network and with other devices. Previously human-controlled “things” are thus self-regulated with the help of the internet. The range of applications extends from a general supply of information to automatic orders and warning and emergency functions. In the future, an intelligent refrigerator will order food on its own and start talking to us. Mark Leckey cleverly implemented this idea in the installation “GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction”.
  6. Intangible art: In order to be able to understand immaterial art, it should be stated at the outset that NOTHING exists in this world without its opposite. The artistic realisation of immaterial art is always about the attempt to free “something” from its materiality. The origin of immaterial art can thus be traced – in anticipation of conceptual art – to the monochrome, ironically titled paintings of the Paris “Salon des Arts Incohérents” in 1883. Subsequently, the critique of the object status of the artwork was one of the central themes of 20th century art. It appears regularly (e.g. in Kazimir Malevich’s “Black Square” in 1915), but becomes particularly virulent in the late 1960s (e.g. Yves Klein’s exhibition “Le Vide” at the Paris gallery Iris Clert) and 1970s with Fluxus, performance, video art and conceptual art. Many digital works are also immaterial (e.g. net art). For collectors, this means rethinking previously valid collection criteria, since issues such as longevity, authenticity and intrinsic value no longer apply here. The collector’s commitment to the preservation of his or her immaterial products is assumed and is a guarantee for the continuity of time. The theme of immaterial art was implemented most consistently in the performances of Tino Segal.
  7. Artificial intelligence: is a branch of computer science that deals with the automation of intelligent behaviour. Will artificial robots continue our evolution? According to a survey by the Marplan Research Institute (2015), almost 50% of Germans already believe that AI will be used frequently in everyday life. Consciousness, the functioning of the brain, intelligence, but above all creativity have not yet been fully researched in terms of their function, so that they can simply be replicated. We are reminded of the attempt by the software company Microsoft in March 2016, whose adaptive chat bot “Tay” had to be taken offline again just a few hours after its existence on Twitter because it wanted to spread racist propaganda. Artists are also dealing with the question of how AI acts when tasks cannot be solved with logic and science and emotions follow. Roman Lipski and Florian Dohmann, part of the digital art collective YQP, are exploring these questions – as is Adi Hösle, who has already had many people paint pictures using brain-computer interfaces with his Brain Painting Machine.
  8. Art Law 2.0: In the course of the rapid developments in the areas of Web 2.0 and social media, legal issues also play a decisive role alongside the new sales opportunities on the internet. In fact, digitalisation requires considerable changes in the legal system, some of which are still unfinished. In business models such as online sales, for example, rights of withdrawal or competition rights must be considered. If works of art or pictures of, for example, vernissage guests are posted online, certain copyrights or the right to one’s own image must be observed. The rapid sharing of content on social platforms should also follow the legal principles of copyright law, at least in the commercial sector, in order to avoid expensive claims for damages in advance. 
  9. Online art market:The Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2016 by the British specialist insurer Hiscox shows some key figures that make the change in the art market understandable. It is the fourth annual report of its kind. This year’s report focuses on trends in immediate art buying and the different types of online platforms. The study examines what people buy, how much they spend this way and existing market barriers. The findings are based on responses from 672 international art buyers. The report shows a growth of the online art market of 24% with sales of $3.27 billion, which is 6% of the total art market with a total volume of $63.8 billion. Future forecasts speak of further growth and a sales volume of $9.58 billion in 2020.
  10. Pokémon GO: Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game that allows players to catch virtual fantasy creatures (Pokémon) in the real world and be alerted to the location of new Pokémon via the smartphone’s GPS recognition. The success of the game attracted new audiences to the art world worldwide. The German art magazine Monopol reported that both the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Getty Museum posted photos of the Pokémon that could be caught inside the museum. Pokémon have also been spotted at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre Paris. Increasingly, Pokémon is also being used as a new motif in visual art. And Greenpeace Magazin reports on the Syrian artist Khaled Akil, who placed the little Pokémon in front of destroyed houses in Aleppo to prevent the war in his homeland from being forgotten. 
  11. Post-Internet-Art:Post-Internet art does not subscribe to a clearly definable style, but is an attitude or state of mind that thinks in the way of the Internet. Artists who work under this term use the latest software or devices such as the 3-D printer as a matter of course, with the help of which they realise images, films and objects. The internet serves as an inexhaustible source, as does the glossy illusory world of advertising and fashion. Post-Internet artists often use industrially prefabricated products without having to do anything themselves. The concept is in the foreground, as is the possibility of sharing photos or exhibition views of the work with an internationally networked community on Facebook Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram post. The German-American artist Marisa Olson is considered the inventor of the term Post-Internet, who first used it in 2008. Since 2010, other terms have also been in circulation that refer more or less to the same aesthetic thrust of an international art youth movement: “New Aesthetic”, “Circulationism” “Tumblerism”, “Radical” or “Meme Art”.
  12. Virtual Reality:Virtual reality is the big topic of the future and attracts artists, designers and filmmakers as well as industry and business. Virtual reality can be an element of walk-in software-driven installations and projections. Most artistic spaces have sculptural and architectural aspects that are experienced with text, graphics, animation, speech and even physical experience. By navigating virtual spaces, we experience fascinating new dream worlds as avatars. Virtual reality is a new medium in the art world – somewhere between game and film. Virtual reality opens up new business models not only for artists, but also for the creative industries. Today, cultural consumers can already visit museums, churches, concert halls and opera houses with the help of virtual reality glasses, regardless of time and place.
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