In 2001 I started a project called The Church of Software to support the idea of selling the file instead of a representation of it. It was a very radical approach that years later inspired both the Altarboy Server Sculpture series then all my other iterations on the same subject.
From a 2001’s writing: “The Church of Software promotes the files’ entry in the art market. Up to now the files have been used as a means to do an artwork. But now they need to become a real buying/selling art object.
The Church compares the File to the genius and its primary support to the Aladdin Lamp. In the same way you have to wipe the magic lamp to see the genius, you need to load the file to see it. Till today Artists and art Dealers sold just photos of the genius. The Church promotes the commercialisation of the genius…”
Related project: IcoPortraits
The Protocol (domain name + hosting + screen), 2002
“The Protocol” was introduced and discussed in the Rhizome.org’s forum in 2002. More info: On Tuesday, April 2, 2002, I started a discussion on a Rhizome Raw Mailing list by posting a message called: Rhizome Protocol? In that e-mail, that you can read at the end of these few lines, I asked for opinions, thoughts, theories and, above all, the possible technical reality of interfacing emerging artists – who work with a particular kind of new media such as the .net – with art dealers and collectors. To synthesize: If I want to buy your wonderful networked work, what do you really sell me? The subject is not so easy because, as you know, net_things are “public”. The problem is: is it possible to merge traditional property and works that have their identity founded in a full sharing process?
I think yes, because it is a false problem. The new parameter we have to find is not about the objects, but about the subjects, the buyer and the seller. As the most important thing you have when you buy an art work is not the material property but it is the possibility to choose from that day the future of the artwork you bought (you can share it, you can hide it, you can speak about it, you can sponsor it or destroy it!!) as through these following 3 points, described in this first release of the protocol, you can obtain something equal. In this case, the traditional concept of property could be transformed in something about MAINTENANCE. The collector as a Maintainer.
The Protocol – a peer to peer $elling Process by Carlo Zanni a.k.a. beta
I think the most important thing now is to sell files and URLs as we commonly sell paintings, sculptures, photos, or other traditional artworks. The quality level is secondary now. Several museums are institutionalizing net things, but the priority is to introduce them in art fairs and galleries. I think we need a few lines of easy, reliable, useful protocol (so this is not only a wonderful theory) to interface us with the art market field. I found three elements that could be considered to begin the process. I thought about it by myself then I found out that artist Olia Lialina had a similar idea some years ago. I combined them and made a synthesis.
Every net piece has to be sold with a personal web space (1), a TLD name (2) and a Visual support (3).
FTP web space: When people buy a net piece, I sell them a web space contract with a hosting company and a digital support with FTP specs stored inside (this was updated to selling the server directly, please see the Altarboy).
Domain name: When people buy a net piece, I transfer the ownership of the TLD name to the buyer. (A lot of artists make their pieces under the same directory/url but to support the process, TLDs could be a good way to compromise.)
Visual support: When people buy a net piece, I sell them an “online LED screen system” that helps “to finish the art object” and helps the selling process. In this way, net things stay online and the buyers can enjoy them in their real entity.
The Protocol – a peer to peer $elling Process is the second act of the Church of Software. www.thechurchofsoftware.org
SERVER (altarboy), 2003
The idea of selling the Server explored with “The Protocol” (see above) materialized into the Altarboy, a server-sculpture containing a network based art work that can be sold. The sculpture -in this specific project being a portable metal case- contains a laptop running as web server, using dyndns. This means that “physically” the code of the work resides in the sculpture (and web visitors must access it from their computer like they do for any other website) and can be owned by a collector or an institution as any other more classic artwork. Indeed, it is up to the collector to decide when to plug it into the web letting the public see and interact with it at a proper website (website becoming visible when the sculpture is connected to the Internet). If the server is turned off, the work can be seen privately using the data stored in its database (data collected during the days of its online activity).
This was explored before tons of times, to make documentation out of performance or happenings. Archives are very helpful when the project keeps making iterations of itself. If these iterations can be periodically stored, then they can be watched again in the future when the project stops working.
Related project: my country is a Living Room, 2011
Video = books = tunes, 2011
Art projects based on media that must replicate themselves to exist* should be sold like books or tunes. They should be unlimited, unsigned and very affordable like a book or a tune.
*This was derived from W. Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.
Related project: ViBO
P€OPLE ¥rom MAR$, 2012
…the best result will come… from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself… and the group.
A BEAUTIFUL MIND
P€OPLE ¥rom MAR$ is an invitation-only service. We sell Art Videos, New media projects, Sound art and other type of File and Software based art by contemporary artists for low prices in Limited or Unlimited editions.
We share each sale as follows: 70% goes to the Artist, 10% goes to the Service and 20% is redistributed among all the active members. This project is for Artists, Curators, Galleries, No Profits, Artist-Run Spaces and Collectors.
P€OPLE ¥rom MAR$ is built around 5 main concepts:
- We sell digital media (new media, software etc.), sound art and video art (potentially lectures, talks, cutting edge publications) by international artists in a non-exclusive basis for low prices, like books or tunes. There are media born to stay unique like painting, marble etc. Others that must replicate (copy) themselves to exist. Think of books, music, cinema etc. Videos and above all Internet and New Media art are even more complicated because in many cases they keep morphing thanks to third party data and/or an interacting audience. To keep selling this type of art only in the way we sell a painting is a mistake.
- Formats are: limited or unlimited digital downloads for cheap prices (so a switch from the classic 5 + 1 galleries try to sell art videos) and physical editions (limited or unlimited, signed or unsigned. Physical can go in bundle with a Free version too). Average prices: under 10€ for downloads and max 200 € for a video in physical edition.
- We share 70% artist, 10% platform, 20% shared among all the users with at least 1 project on sale (this should happen once or twice a year). Since the platform is inclusive, Galleries, No Profits and Artist-Run Spaces can join too and invite artists to join and then take a cut from the Artist’s 70% on a specific project.
- The number of sales is public, this could sound controversial but it ‘s a sign Vs. the art world that hiding sale data, can embrace speculations activities.
- We use paypal parallel payments, so Artists (or other involved members) get money right away.
Related project: P€OPLE ¥rom MAR$
ViBo stands for Video Book. It is a user friendly device to sell Video Art and other New Media Projects subjects to these three characteristics:
UNLIMITED – UNSIGNED – CHEAP
At this moment a ViBo costs € 120.
When you open the ViBo, the video starts playing. When you close it, it stops. ViBo has a mini USB port to be connected to a computer. In a dedicated folder you can find an info file and the video in high resolution. An early version of the ViBo was made for “the zero to one hundred pop-up” a sale/show held at Young Projects Gallery in Los Angeles in the fall of 2013. Interview for Arshake (ITA) – Article on Droste Effect. The First series of 16 pieces (2 pieces for 8 different projects) was first introduced at Marsèlleria Permanent Exhibition in Milano on April 7th 2014.
Related project: ViBo