The bitcoin of the Art World

Checkout issue 6 of The Unlimited Magazine with my article on s[edition] and digital art:

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Virtually Real by Etan Jonathan Ilfeld 

As Walter Benjamin has pointed out, art that is mechanically reproducible is perceived differently than traditional art such as painting. Not surprisingly, it took a while until photography was considered high art, and began selling for considerable prices at auction houses (e.g. Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96, 1981, sold in 2011 for $3.89 million). Video-art has faced similar challenges, but thanks to digital technology, video-art is becoming democratized and affordable. Putting a price on a film has always been complex. Although cinemas have commodified the feature film such that the same ticket price will apply to a $200M blockbuster as it will to a low-budget independent film, the pricing of video-art remains elusive and transient.

Traditionally, video-art followed in the footsteps of photography and featured a limited edition series, where the price of each piece increased with the sale of each additional piece so that the last piece in an edition is the most expensive. However, it was a lot easier to collect, preserve, and display photography than it was video-art, which requires electricity and maintaining a technology that can quickly fall out of date (e.g. VCR Cassettes).

s[edition] aims to change all of this—its online platform and marketplace make digital art accessible to anyone with internet access. s[edition] sells limited editions of photography and video art, maintains a centralized registry, issues certificates to buyers, and helps store the artworks in a digital vault. The collector doesn’t have to worry about preserving the work and can display it via the apps that s[edition] develops for iPads, smart TVs, and web browsers. s[edition] also has a secondary marketplace that allows collectors to sell the pieces they purchased once the edition has been sold out.

Is s[edition] a sort of rich-man’s Vine or the bitcoin of the art world? Although the jury is still out, s[edition] has done a great job in getting celebrity artists to join its ranks. Tracey Emin already sold seven different art works, such as Love Is What You Want, a video-art piece in her typical neon-art style, an edition of 2000, priced at $80. Meanwhile, you can buy a stunning mandala-like photo, Idolatry, by Damien Hirst for as little as $10, or a Bill Viola video, “A Phrase from ‘Chris’,” from hisTransfiguration series, for $200.

s[edition] also serves as a social network where you can follow different artists and collectors, as well as showcase your own collection. For example, while following artist Aaron Koblin, you’ll be able to see that he is selling his Flight Patterns video, that he has 96 different collectors on the platform, as well as 417 followers, and that he has collected four art works: a Wim Wenders photo that a few others had purchased, a video piece by Sougwen Chuno, and two video pieces by his former mentor at UCLA, Casey Reas. In addition to its curated blue-chip artists, s[edition] has recently opened its platform to emerging artists, who already feature a wide range of innovative works. Perhaps, the 21st century’s Picasso will be discovered on the Internet.


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