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Delivered a keynote on Automating Culture

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A few days ago, I delivered a keynote on ‘Automating culture: How Digital Platforms are Shaping the Art World’ for an international conference organized by Prof. Filip Vermeylen. For about a decade now, we both have been working on the democratization possibilities of the art world through the rise of social media and globalization through the new cultural commons project.

The talk was about how the art world has entered the platform economy. The art industry is being subjected to similar fears and possible opportunities of automation as other cultural industries such as the music, film and the publishing business. Hence, it asks some key questions: Can the traditional art intermediaries still compete in the platform economy as data mining companies enter the fray? Has the divide between the high and the popular culture collapsed as user behavior, platform design and engineering staff circulate between these worlds? Do customers no longer care about the aura of the art piece before bu…

Past as a friendly ghost: The art world all over again…

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It’s been almost a decade since I left the art world to pursue academia. From convincing CEOs and their interior designer sidekicks to buy a Toy painting from the Warhol series for the children’s room to now convincing students to learn how to communicate when selling themselves and their ideas, things have changed somewhat. But it’s hard to forget the adrenaline of clinching a deal, of convincing your client that a Chagall lithograph was meant for them as you dimmed the lights in the viewing room, got them to nurse some wine and relax on the leather couch in the privacy of the gallery room. In my naïve days, I thought information deeply mattered. I thought a buyer would be interested and would demand knowledge on the background of the artist, their historical significance, the artistic significance of the piece to the provenance of the artwork. Yet over time, you get to realize that decision-making is a more irrational process and rationality comes often after the deal is done to…