3 AUGUST 1997
Posted to the Documenta Forum in response to a thread on how artists can survive economically by creating digital objects that are easily duplicated.
Few artists are able to live on the sale of art objects be they painting, poem, novel or song. Maintaining the hope that they can is one of the jobs of a critic like Donald Kuspit and the reason they are paid by both academic institutions and commercial galleries. The digital object has its own global market and will develop its own economics and forms of currency.
Names are a form of currency where art journals and institutions determine value, like the Federal Reserve Bank in the U.S. does for the dollar. With the growing global economy the value of the dollar fluxuates and is manipulated so that the bankers at the Fed now spend much of their energy responding to those manipulations and doing damage control.
Digital name/objects like "jodi.org", "Heath Bunting", "Nettime", "Blast" and others are circulating and accumulating value without much of the traditional control of these art "bankers" who have been so unaware for the past five years they are only now responding by attempting to devalue this currency.
Physical objects will come tumbling from this emerging global digital network,. People will buy, rent, sponsor, trade, hoard, access, copy, and destroy them because we like to do those things with physical objects, we use them. Fortunately, many traditional art bankers will have expended their energies fighting something they don't understand. They will hunker down in their castles and ivory towers and grumble. Those that have lifted a moistened finger to test the direction of the wind will take their place. Such is life.
So,maybe it's not a question of trying to force digital objects to perform the way we now expect physical objects to perform (hang nicely on the wall, pack up easily, don't fall apart, be commodities) but to be aware when physical objects are resulting from the digital.
I know this doesn't answer the question of how to make money from digital art but maybe the first step should be to give that question a rest and see what else is happening.