Cultured Magazine

Winter 2015

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"Any artist who's creating art for the Internet is a pioneer—even in 2015," says Lindsay Howard, the New York-based curator of online art platform NewHive. Via the Web, Howard works closely with net artists like Alexandra Gorczynski and Jacob Ciocci to commission new digital works, offering her curatorial feedback, and more importantly, consultation on the market. In the real world, physical works of art can be bought and sold, taken home and hung up for display above the mantle. But in the nebulous realm of Internet art, how do these rules apply? Howard broke new ground in the digital art market in 2013, when she curated "Paddles ON!," an unprecedented digital-art auction at Phillips. There, the twenty-some lots abandoned all auction house convention: paint gave way to pixels, and digital works—GIF files, YouTube videos, distorted Google Earth screenshots—took center stage. The URL for a website by Rafael Rozendaal sold for $3,500. TV-scrambling software by Casey Reas sold for $11,000. For the very first time, a sale of digital art had taken place in real life, allowing works to take an extraordinary leap from the computer screen to the auction block. Phillips invited Howard to curate a second auction at its London location in 2014. Such an event was unthinkable during Howard's early days as curatorial director at Brooklyn art space 319 Scholes. In 2010, that experimental gallery was one of the first to give artists and curators of digital media—a young Parker Ito, Petra Cortright and Brian Droitcour, for example—a place for their work, and Howard quickly recognized the detriment of not having a collector base. "Nothing was monetized then, and what I noticed was that my favorite artists were getting hired by ad agencies and corporations to do their digital media strategies or web design," recalls Howard. "It was a concern for me that a lot of these young artists, who are so very talented, could not make money doing what they really wanted to do." Howard's mission from then on became building a financial and critical support system around these artists' work, pairing traditional strategies like thick curatorial texts with the modern outreach tools of social media in order to develop an audience. "Similar to the way photography and then video have become important areas of contemporary art collections over the last 10 to 15 years," says Amanda Schneider, curatorial director of digital art display start-up Depict, "digital art is increasingly becoming an important part of contemporary art collections now." As such, Howard treats digital as any other medium. "I curate for the Web in the same way that I would curate for an institution. The main difference is that I can be more agile because I don't have physical overhead or the concerns of an IRL—in real life—space." Last December, Gorczynski, NewHive's current artist-in-residence, accomplished the unprecedented feat of selling a digital piece during Art Basel Miami Beach. After Dark, a layered collage of moving images over footage of a woman's eye displayed on a monitor at the art fair PULSE, sold for the sum of $5,000. The blessing and the curse of net-based art is that online, there are no rules, and these small victories lay a foundation for pushing forward the conversation about the digital art market, a space where artists currently have unlimited space for experimentation. "There's something unpredictable and beautiful about it that artists are attracted to," says Howard of the Internet. "It's going to take collectors and institutions a while, but they'll follow artists where they want to be, and where they want to create." 202 CULTURED PORTRAIT BY IGNACIO TORRES The Wild West The world of digital art is a vast and uncharted territory, but curator Lindsay Howard has her sights set on taming it. BY JANELLE ZARA NewHive curator Lindsay Howard is also a founding member of Deep Lab, an international collective of digital media researchers.

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