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“The Digital Dilemma”

In Feature, News on October 5, 2009 at 12:52 pm

ArtWorks magazine, a fine art quarterly based out of Carmel (Pebble Beach) California, has recently published “The Digital Dilemma” which speaks to digital art concerns that some in the industry have as it relates to curating and collecting.  To read the piece in its entirety pick up a copy of the Fall issue of ArtWorks at your local Barnes & Noble.  What follows is a lengthy excerpt from the article.

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The Digital Dilemma
by Max Eternity

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GenFLowIII_003451“Generative Flowers III 003451”

As digital art becomes more mainstream, artists, collectors and galleries alike are having to conceptualizing new ways to function in the marketplace; simultaneously facing the challenges of new media conservation, authentication and provenance.  Yet with a growing market at stake, digital editions are serious business, even though there’s some resistance.

One person with doubts about digital is Andy Weiner, co-owner of Spaightwood Galleries.  Weiner and his partner Sonja have tens of thousands of prints in inventory; a large percentage of which dates back several centuries.  Even so, around 8,000 pieces are of 20th century artists like Warhol, Chagall, Kandinsky and Matisse.  Still the gallery carries no digital editions.

David Rudd Cycleback, author of Judging the Authenticity of Prints by the Masters

“Whether you are talking about a 1650 Rembrandt etching or a 2005 digital print, things like originality, artistic quality and number in existence, affect value and desirability”

– David Rudd Cycleback –

Author of “Judging the Authenticity of Prints by the Masters”

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Kirstin Heming, Director of Pace Prints in New York, takes a more confident approach to digital editions.  Maybe it’s because the gallery has been selling digital prints since the mid 90’s.  “Our collectors are more secure with the process” she says.  And in regards to conservation of digital inks, Heming says “initially, it may have been a concern, like when we did our first exhibit with Kiki Smith in 1997.  8 years ago, however, inks became less of a worry.”  Indicating that was around the time when ink quality had become engineered to last for centuries instead of decades.  But when asked about the gallery’s protocol for issuing limited digital editions “that distinction is not clearly made” Heming replied.  For some, this is a red flag, because less familiar collectors tend to assume that digital automatically means reproduction, or worse–fake.

Rex Bruce, Director of LACDA

“One thing that should be understood is that people have been buying and selling limited editions a long, long time”

– Rex Bruce –

Director @ The Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (LACDA)

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At the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (LACDA), Rex Bruce, has a very firm stance on issuing protocol.  Bruce, LACDA’s director, says that the art center only shows original singles and limited editions, known as multiple originals.  “There is a huge difference between multiple originals and reproductions” says Bruce.  For that reason “we never show digital reproductions “

GenFLowIII_004295“Generative Flowers 004295” by Don Relyea

Artist Don Relyea has one of the oldest fine art blogs on the internet.  Relyea’s approach to art embraces the concept of digital media convergence.  His Internet site features music, prints and moving images, where he blogs about his family as well.  In Relyea’s words “the internet is a great tool for emerging artists to keep people informed about the projects they are working on…”

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Max Eternity, contributing writer to Artworks Magazine and editor of Art Digital Magazine, is a 21st Century Renaissance man who creates innovative print types reflecting the Bauhaus school and Early American modernism.  In prose via a network of informational web portals, Eternity advocates artistic and social concerns ranging from architectural preservation and digital literacy to the Afro/Euro fine art construct, government transparency, health and nutrition.  An avid inventor, he currently has over a dozen utilities and processes in various stages of development.

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  1. This article is a thoughtful comment of the traditional/digital divide still remaining for some in the visual arts. Fortunately, history has a way of transforming the ‘new’ (in this case ‘digital’) into the ‘traditional.’ Or, perhaps, the difference will no longer be visible. An acquaintance of mine who chairs a college art department and who has been doing fine art prints the old-fashioned way for decades confessed that he can no longer tell the difference when he does it digitally.

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