Digital Property changes Everything

There is something that has always puzzled me about video art; for example, many works by Bill Viola or Marina Abramovicˇjust to name two of the most famous artists in this field, are sold and collected on specific devices, such as a simple signed and numbered DVD’s, or an installation or composition of screens, which Bill Viola favors. I have always felt that in this way the collector is buying the device, rather than the video itself, this would make sense if it were thought of and designed synergistically with the physical structure that contains it. But how should we consider the issue if the buyer only wanted to own the video? If the artist was only interested in producing and selling the video? The profound revolution in digital property in recent years with NFTs, and the development of blockchain technology seem to intervene perfectly in just such cases. Finally, those who want to collect a video can do so, without having to own an object that contains it.

It sounds like a strange play on words, but that is exactly what it is. Of course, the concept can be extended to many other types of work; think of photography, an art form accepted as such only in recent decades. This was never disconnected from the type of medium used for the print as a central element of the creative chain and the artist’s trademark. Is it correct that things are viewed this way? Is the supporting material an integral part of creativity? Or, in evaluating a photo or video as a work of art, should I consider only the image, be it still or moving? Certainly, today these questions, as intriguing as they are complex are part of the contemporary art narrative for critics and the marketplace. The opportunity to consider works in their dematerialized and ideal purity offers a unique and stimulating opportunity to discuss the very foundations of the art world and the original idea of collecting. Ownership, provenance and authenticity have consistently been the three cornerstones of a credible and sustainable market and now find sublimation in digital art technologies. But there is much more. At long last digital ownership opens up to a new demographic of collectors, with the younger generation coming forward for the first time. To get to this result, one had to go through expressions close to the world of gaming and comics, but was it worth it? In my opinion, yes.

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