Is it Possible to Create a Digital Art Collection ?

December 13, 2015

As digital art has become more popular than ever before, a logical question is being posed: How to collect digital art? Or we could even pose the question, such as: Is it possible to create a digital art collection? A large number of digital art pieces are not objects – they are not like paintings, sculptures, prints. OK, some of digital artworks may have a form of an object (for example, photographs created with the use of procedural generation). However, the majority of artworks that could be classified as digital art are not objects; someone even make parallels between digital art and virtual art. If you really want to collect digital art in the era of free downloads and omnipresent Internet and computers’ accesses, the real question one could pose is: Is it worth to collect digital art at all? And consequently, is it possible to create a digital art collection?

digital art collection
Leonardo Vieira - Depths

The Nature of Digital Art

It may sound exaggerated to even question the possibility of collecting digital art. What is so difficult about it; what is the problem in collecting it? The main problem we find in the very nature of the digital art – as an artistic work or practice that relies on digital technology in creative and display processes, digital art usually products artworks that are not touchable, that exist only in computers, monitors. However, as it is the case with conceptual or performance art, there are ways for collecting digital art as well. Of course, a collector would need a set of excellent technological devices that could store the pieces of digital art. But, it is possible, after all. Still, there are some doubts that should be addressed.

digital art collection
Gopakumar R. P. -Linguistics River, Internet art

Digital Art Collection – More to be Learnt

Art collecting has some rules and norms that must be respected if someone wants to have a sustainable collection. We wrote about rules of art collecting, first steps in building an art collection, procedures and steps you should follow, etc. But, it’s mainly about collecting paintings, photographs or sculptures, touchable things. You cannot find useful tips for collecting digital art. It’s probably because digital art is quite new movement, and it’s still developing. After all, as Scott Reyburn puts in his article in The New York Times: At the moment, the market for art that’s created and displayed on a screen — as distinct from paintings, prints and photos that are generated digitally and then printed — is small. We should remember that the first “digital art auction” (that took place at Phillips New York in October 2013) gathered only $90,600.

digital art collection
Maja Cule- The Horizon (2013).(HD video loop, Blu-Ray disc, 3’17) (courtesy of Phillips)

Younger and Older Collectors

When we take a look at different lists of digital artists, we will notice one important thing- the majority of them are young and emerging artists. Similarly, young collectors prefer digital art comparing with their older “colleagues”. Why is that so? First of all, a collector should have a strong digital background and expertise (usually younger generations have more knowledge on digital technology). Secondly, digital art is not so expensive (if we compare it with contemporary “fine” art), and older and more “experienced” collectors have more money. Finally, as noted by Fabienne Nicholas, curator of the collection of the international insurance company Aspen, which is using digital art to enliven its corporate image - Digital media appeals to younger artists as a more democratic space that isn’t tied up with a system of financial value. And it affects the collectors’ groups as well.

digital art collection
Ralf Baecker – Irrational Computing, 2011. Installation View, Schering Stiftung Berlin

The Future of Digital Art Collecting

Here, we would like to quote Scott Reyburn again: As the market for “fine” contemporary art becomes more and more expensive, it will be interesting to see if the sheer affordability and accessibility of digital art begins to subvert it. Indeed, especially if we have in mind the growing number of digital artist (let’s just mention Jeremy Blake or Michael Manning), it is probably to expect that we will see a larger number of renowned digital art collections. Yes, it is possible to collect digital art – the only problem is that the majority of collectors still prefer “fine” art (it is more safe to collect these forms), and the lack of knowledge. The second problem is easily solvable – there are more and more experts who are giving advice on how to collect digital art.

Feature Image: Pascal Dombis - Irrationnal Geometrics, 2013. Digital Art Installation. All Images used for illustrative purposes only.

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