Art has to deal with the moment we live in.
Post Internet art is that moment.
A MARKET IN DECLINE?
Desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, smart watches: an ever expanding distribution of connectivity.
It’s been over 20 years since the Internet started to enter the mainstream household. Over this short period of time the Internet of things has come to dominate our human existence and the way we relate to the world.
Theorists, such as Yuval Noah Harari and his book ‘Sapiens’, even prescribe that the Internet will come to affect the very evolution of our species.
The tools of the Internet will not only come to design the world around us, but also ourselves.
Facebook and Google, two giant behemoths of this new era, have played their part in this progress of globalization and control. This exact progress has also brought about new political issues regarding privacy and gentrification.
There is no doubt that we are living in an “Internet Revolution” where people are connected through real-time communications.
So why has the art world failed to embrace this moment in history?
Like all markets it comes down to economy and demand and the art world is no different.
In the climate of 2017, a post-Brexit/post-Trump world, the international art market is stalling with decreases in both volume of transactions and monetary value.
In 2015 global art sales amounted to £45bn, a 7% decrease on the previous year.
It was the first fall in the market since 2011.
Last year, in 2016, the drop in sales continued by an estimated 27% decrease.
But auctions for new art continue to show a strong desire for traditional painting.
Collectors and speculators are lining up to buy big abstracts by artists like Lucien Smith, Christian Rosa, Alex Israel, David Ostrowski and Israel Lund, knowing that a five-figure purchase from a dealer can quickly turn into a six-figure price in a salesroom.
While senior specialists agree that the art market slowdown in 2016 is nothing to worry about, as the market adjusts itself after a period of record growth, it is evident that the market has to adapt.
It has done before on numerous occasions in the past through a succession of art movements.
Back in the galleries there are innovative artists making digital works that engage with today’s Internet realities. But their auction prices haven’t made them art market news.
For the sake of comparison: Internet based art by Ed Fornieles, though completely free to view online, have been sold to collectors for £1,000 to £8,000.
This doesn’t compare to the highs of Jacob Kassay whose contemporary paintings reached an auction price of $290,500.
For art collectors, conceptual and digital works lack the definitive wall-power that makes paintings such an attractive commodity with newer mediums failing to prove their uniqueness.
Paintings are one of a kind while digital works are for the Homer Simpson shaped USB flash drive.
PAINTING VERSION 2.0
The problems for digital art mediums escalate when considering the inherent lifespan that comes with new technologies.
As web browsers and computer operating systems stop supporting the software tools many digital artworks risk falling victim to digital obsolescence.
On October 27 2016, Rhizome started ‘Net Art Anthology’ an ambitious archiving project to provide a permanent home online for only 100 of the most important artworks.
A step in the right direction in terms of preservation but bad luck to the thousands of other digital based artworks that fail to reach the top 100 list.
It is clear that an innovative bridge has to be created between art that reflects our modern times and the traditional media that art collectors crave resulting in the return of the art market to prior high levels of growth.
The thing about innovation is that it could simply mean taking what works in one field and implement it to another. In the case of art this means taking the digital to the canvas.
You probably already heard of the various art terms of net art, new aesthetic, and digital art slipping its way through the art world vocabulary with nothing other than a passing glance.
In their current form these digitalized art movements have failed to dominate art market news.
So what is this innovative step am I talking about?
ENTER POST INTERNET ART
A quick search on Google for “post Internet artists” presents the same trappings that come with a strong reliance on working with new (digital) media.
The difference that post Internet movement offers is not found in the practical but in the theoretical. And it is something that other post internet artists have failed to grasp.
The key point from this official description is that post Internet art should reflect our current stage within the “Internet Revolution”.
Not just to be experienced in an Internet only domain.
In this new understanding it could be argued that all contemporary art should fall under the post Internet bracket.
And in a normal world it should.
However the art world is far from normal with its own curious and attractive economics.
Traditional art makers who work in such mediums of painting, drawing, and sculpture have long tried to resist the bigger picture of contemporary life.
Scared of the modernity that Internet based art seems to represent rather than embracing and using as the Internet as inspiration for their own artworks.
Artists that struggle to change have seen art movements such as Cubism and Post-Modernism past them by - leaving the limelight to shine on the Picasso’s and Hirst’s of this world who have become such an influence to others.
The current “hot” trend in galleries is the representation of artists who use the Internet as their main focus in traditional media and it is only a matter of time before someone who embraces new technologies will make a commercial breakthrough.
My role is to explore the themes that swirl around the top of the art market: for collectors, artists, auction houses and dealers.
In this confusing world of the contemporary art market economy, collectors need to safeguard their purchasing decisions by focusing on the next important trends.
Artists need to shift their thinking towards the Internet.
And auctioneers need to follow their gallery counterparts and promote a movement that embraces technological innovation in order to find new market growth.
I predict that post Internet art is the movement that will truly change the art market in the 21st Century. Something that everyone to do with the art world has to take stock.