Digital Art in the Contemporary Market

 r_sept.psd #1  by Petra Cortright    

By Joey Thomas

Paddles ON!, a collaborative auction spawned by Phillips and Tumblr, will close today, marking a legitimately integrating step for digital art in the contemporary market.  While niche markets have evolved gradually, Paddles On! is the first dedicated digital art auction to be initiated by a major contemporary art auction house.

The concept of digital art as a collecting class is particularly intriguing due to its breadth and progression in medium.  The auction’s 20 piece set is extremely varied,  including a chandelier composed of security cameras, an interactive light sculpture, an animated GIF, and looping visual software.  In every case digital technology plays a vital role in either the creative or delivery process, often both.   

As the contemporary art market warms up to artists innovating with digital technology, determining what will maintain collectibility is important.  One thought is that pieces relying heavily on novelty in medium may initially find buyers, but not a lasting place in the contemporary art market.  Another Paddles ON! piece, Black Creek by Mark Tribe , is a landscape photograph taken within a video game.  Black Creek may not fare as well as the conceptually similar Postcards from Google Earth  by Clement Valla, possibly because Postcards would be significantly harder to duplicate or imitate.  Phillips has estimated Black Creek at $4,500 and Postcards from Google Earth at $3,500.

Two notable contributors are Petra Cortright and Rafael Rozendaal, each having two pieces in the auction. Cortright creates in multiple mediums, and has gained popularity as an internet video artist, with her work being shown in the New Museum and Venice Biennale.  Her videos are typically short format and shot on webcam, often serving as a mirror for modern web habits and culture.  Cortright’s personal pricing system for her videos fluctuates depending on how many YouTube views they have received.  Her submissions for Paddles ON! include a short YouTube video RGB, D-LAY, estimated by Phillips at $1,500, and an abstract digital print, r_sept.psd #1, estimated at $3,000.  

Rafael Rozendaal specializes in interactive web art built from code and experienced through an internet browser.  Rozendaal’s sites often allow for more than passive viewing, inviting recipients to affect works using limited parameters.  The end results uniquely remind of painting and video game, both beautiful and addicting.  His work has been shown at the Kawasaki City Museum, Museu Imagem e Sol, and the world’s largest LCD screen in Seoul Square.  His submissions include the interactive HTML piece, estimated by Phillips at $6,000, and a lenticular painting Into Time 13 08 13, estimated at $12,000.

Online bidding for Paddles ON! ends October 10 at 7PM ET.