Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Web Art

Walking through Greenwich market in London recently, I passed lots of stalls selling jewellery, cards, fabrics, and various pieces of art.

It occurred to me that "web art" - digital multimedia produced by an artist and published online - is still in its infancy (with the exception, perhaps, of photography).

Where is the art exchange selling beautiful SVG clockfaces for my desktop or wristwatch, or abstract paintings for my digital photoframe? Where can I purchase thoughtful and arty online cards, or "moody" background videos for plasma screens?

This must be partly down to artists preferring traditional physical materials - and to be honest, given current display and design technology, I don't blame them. But in a couple of years, the market will be there.

Webifying art

Art could be the next area to be turned upside down by the internet. If every piece of virtual art has a URI, this means perfect copying - if someone creates the next Mona Lisa online, everyone can see the "original" perfectly in their browser, and download it.

It's similar to the music industry, - business models will have to change. What will it mean to "own" virtual art? Will anyone pay for it? How will the artists' rights be protected? In music, some suggest that the web will eliminate the record company - but art has never had the equivalent of record companies, and it still may have serious issues.

Of course, there will still be offline art. But it's already clear that the internet will change the world of art, just as it has for music.

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