The problem with the relative newness of media like video, digital and internet art is that unlike a canvas or a sculpture, people can struggle with the ideas of how to show, sell and “own” them. In a culture where film, gifs and other forms of creative work are available online, everywhere, to many people the idea of what is and isn’t art, and how you own it, is confusing. While everyone accepts that video art and digital art are still valid and important media; there are few organisations making the leap into viewing them in the commercial art world in the same way we would more traditional formats.
Digital art platform Daata Editions is changing all that, having launched last year as a space to champion a curated selection of commissioned pieces by artists working in digital, sound, moving image and internet art. Its first season featured 18 artists, and each created six new works available to buy on the website in editions of 15. Among the artists featured in season one are Jon Rafman, David Blandy and Rachel Maclean. Daata Editions has just announced its second season, with work by Tracey Emin, Jake Chapman and Casey Jane Ellison. The works will be priced from $100 upwards (around £70), and can be bought from 5 May. To coincide with the launch, we spoke to Daata Editions’ director David Gryn about how the platform works, why we need it, and changing attitudes towards digital and moving image art.
Why did you decide to start Daata Editions?
I’ve been working with artist moving image for nearly 20 years, so I have an instinct of how the art world and audiences engage with it, and how the market works with it. I previously curated video for Art Basel Miami, working with the art fair about how galleries can work with moving image. People often don’t bring it to art fairs as it doesn’t sell well, so I tried to bring it to life. We wanted to encourage galleries into programming exceptional moving image artists as they’re part of the fabric of the contemporary art world; but it was never made a priority. I wanted to encourage other models and platforms for showing artist moving image.
What are the problems with showing people art that lives online, in a world where we’re so surrounded by online images and audio, all the time?
We need to define art processes and work with artists who make art, not “content”. The web-based media want to serve a huge audience but it’s important to define that everything I do is about art and artists, not about wacky social media tropes. We’re empowering the artists, the audience and the collector to do what they do with this medium, and making sure it’s the artist we’re talking about rather than the great technical media we’re working with.
As technology evolves so rapidly, what are your feelings about the longevity of the work and the platform?
I don’t want to start guessing what the next 20 years will be like, but the better artists work with the greatest quality materials. Daata Editions is about looking at how to serve artists best and how to pay them, promote the work and make the business sustain itself. I wanted to create a model, not the model, and work with people trying to do the best of what they do.
How do you select the artists you work with?
I just filter things by instinct, we work with a few other people including writers and curators, but we hear about a lot of artists through other artists. The site has the rudiments of being a gallery but the boundaries of a website rather than a gallery wall, so the art has to work with that.
We choose things you think can engage an audience, but also someone with currency in the art world. We’re taking a risk with some artists, but some have that currency already. We’re trying to keep it as open as possible, and the relationships that work well have a very collaborative nature. It’s a pleasure to make the process happen and try to read the crystal ball of who’s going to be successful. We’re not trying to be purveyors of the future but we’re saying “this is a system we’re believing in and it’s working well.” It’s a medium we want to engage with more and more.
What are the practicalities of the site, in terms of payment, rights and ownership of the work?
We’ve tried to price everything flat, not according to the current market. The pieces are downloaded onto a screen of a platform of your choice, but anyone can see them free with a watermark. We felt we should allow the audience to see the whole thing, and the person who wants to own it gets the limited-edition number.
We’re trying to create something where people can see it and buy it in a way that artists get paid and the next round of commissioning happens. Its aims are about paying the artists and continuing the business.
About the Author
Emily joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in the summer of 2014 after four years at Design Week. She is particularly interested in graphic design, branding and music. After working It's Nice That as both Online Editor and Deputy Editor, Emily left the company in 2016.