Jeanne Charlotte Vogt – arts & technology, digital culture and performing arts

Jeanne Charlotte Vogt
digital artists as survivors

In his blog, Marius Watz, among others he has been one curator of the NODE10, is drawing a very well summarizing picture of the situation of the digital artist in/outside the contemporary art world.

As a provocation, The Creators Project tweets “Why are there no great Digital Artists?” As provocations go this is not a bad one, even though it should produce involuntary facepalming. Greatness is not a metric, moreover it’s hardly a realistic goal for the average artist. Most artists are familiar with the awkward experience of being asked (by lay people or their mothers) why they don’t show their work at MoMA, and having to stutteringly explain that the art world moves in mysterious ways, its wonders to perform.“

He then points to the core of the discourse:
„A more useful question would be: How many mid-career digital artists are there? How many digital artists make 50% or more of their income directly from their work, whether by sales, exhibition fees or public art commissions? How much digital art is being placed in major collections, and is there a secondary market for it? (Likely answer for that last one is no, obviously.)“


(softlab at NODE10 Forum for Digital Arts)


The core of it might indeed be searched in percentages – which, as far as i know, we do not know and might need serious research. How high is the share of survivors in the digital art world in comparison to the so-far-established art world?
„While the value of art can sometimes be hard to prove, the auxiliary skills artist possess are often quite valuable – whether it’s carpentry, teaching, web site design or creating custom software / hardware for Nike photo shoots.“ … which is why an – i assume – far higher precentage of digital artists can continue their artistic work despite not having had the big hit or being exposed in the MoMa. so for this, and for her community-open and open-source oriented (and for me far more sympathetic) nature, the digital arts sphere is far less exclusive and selective than the established art scene – so obverse to its very core value-creation system?! – a thought that was nurtured by a very brief but enlightning discussion with Andreas Broeckmann, former curator of the transmediale.

The final question might be then, should digital arts learn the rules of the contemporary art scene or can we wait for a change in the stardom-oriented selective art world to being more ‚open source/access‘ – probably the latter is something no one actually wants, have the rules on how much success serves an artists career been studied too long, does the public want stars, do non-digital art works less easily enter in the digital world of sharing and creative commons, and do painters rarely have the opportunity to produce some fancy interactive presentation device for Daimler’s next automotive show… (which some of them, not named Hirst or Richter, would probably need then…).

Finally, my collegues would obviously tear me into pieces since I would be making points for reducing the freedom of art, argueing unvoluntarily for a life in which it is necessary to do additional work apart from art, what i understand, in parts, although i am an economist (Livia, we still have to continue this discussion…). but still there’s something more real and „democratic“ in the digital artists‘ world (… not going too much in detail on democrazy theory and swarms and pirates and…).

In sum, the digital art scene might be more social, human-friendlier having many „mid-career digital artists“ rather than producing thousands of deselected precariously living „no-career visual artists“.

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