Contents
Introduction
Chapter 1:
Internet Art
Chapter 2:
Institutions
Chapter 3:
Digital Weakness
Conclusion
Table of Figures
Footnotes
Bibliography
Glossary
James Hayes' art website


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There are business oriented art websites that have absolutely no concerns for digital art or publishing, but rather are in this for the money. This does not mean they aren't of benefit to the artistic community, a possibility shown by such sites as the U.S. based website dART™39. dART™ is an Internet art network, which is a "co-operative effort" (their words) of 4,413 websites (as of November 13th 2001) to help people find and research art, mostly composed of non-digital artists flogging their wares and their careers online. This website by its very nature is run by a database of information, which continually evolves and changes as "members" join and change their information. For example, between October 2nd and November 13th 2001 the following dART™ website statistics changed:

October 2nd 2001

November 13th 2001

Change

30,753 art pieces

32,126 art pieces

+1,373 art pieces

$109,368,961 in artwork

$111,469,285 in artwork

+$2,100,324 in artwork

7,760 artist forums

8,092 artist forums

+ 332 forums

Information gathered from the main page of the dART™ website November 200140


These types of vast statistics can only be managed by software driven systems, not by hand, in order to keep it up-to-the-minute. That said, this is not a bad thing. The website makes its money from ad banners that appear at the top of each page, thus keeping it fairly accessible to low-budget artists. There are advantages gained through a paid membership, such as a more visible placement in search returns - when a customer searches the database for artwork, paying members are listed first. This leads to a type of capitalist anarchy, where the free members are simply providing numbers for the website's statistics, so they can justify charging for advertising, which supports the website's existence - a neat little circle. Any artist embarking into this geography independent, free-market free-for-all must be careful that they do not get burned by the inevitable charlatan. Since there is no gallery go between, there is also no protection from "con artists", an inevitable danger of the Internet.

A more personal, but still database driven approach is taken with the Canadian James Baird Gallery41 website. The James Baird Gallery website operates on an "Escrow" service procedure, whereby the buyer and seller are mediated by the gallery, thus ensuring that the work is paid for, and that the work is shipped in proper order. Only when both ends of the transaction are completed to mutual satisfaction does the gallery pay the artist, minus a sliding scale fee of course. Although this brings the gallery financially back into the picture, it does provide a valuable safety net for the artist and allows the website to operate without annoying advertising banners. The artist does not ship the artwork until the money is acknowledged as received by the gallery. As the whole service is run through VISA and MasterCard credit transfers, there is a certain amount of legitimacy presumed. As the fee is only paid as a percentage of any given sale, the service for the most part remains free and accessible to the low budget artist. For a rather lower profile website than the dART™ website, The James Baird Gallery website still boasts 18,639 artists, 1,066 galleries and 69,573 images.42

The benefits to traditional artists (i.e., non-digital) of using these Internet based galleries are several. The service is non-geographic and more often than not the service is not vetted. This means that the gallery is not limited to a certain "stable" of artists, giving more opportunities to more people, and the artists are not individually selected or rejected by a gallery owner. Although some might suggest that this will lead to rampant amateurism, it must be stressed that there are many professional artists who have difficulty getting their work displayed in an upscale gallery setting. These same artists may have no difficulty selling their work online, to a wide, international and receptive audience.

by James Hayes
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