By Macu Morán · Collecting intangible heritage, sharing intellectual property
Essay published at DiVA New York 2008 Catalog & in 2012 in the publication "Digital Narratives & Image Technologies"
Digital Narratives & Image Technologies
an anthology of theoretical texts on video art from Spain and Asia, part of the project 'Crossing East-West Narratives by the End of Video Art', conceived by Casa Asia, organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, and exhibited at La Tabacalera, Madrid. The project explores the possibility of interweaving narratives from Spain, India, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Australia.
This volume is presented in hopes of retrieving theoretical work carried out by researchers, historians, critics and curators over the last decade on digital narratives, the production and distribution of video, the future of digital arts on the Net and the expanded field of the moving image.
Panorama from the bridge: The evolution of Videoart in Spain through Independent Initiatives and Those by Artist Collectives. Edited: Menene Gras. Published: Casa Asia / Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte del Gobierno de España. Along with essays by: Claudia Gianetti, Berta Sichel, Macu Morán, Nekane Aramburu, Laura Baigorri, Vicente Matallana, Neus Miró, Susana Blas, Carlos Jiménez, Roberta Bosco/Stephano Caldana, Karen Ohlesnlahger, Virginia Villaplana, Lorea Iglesias, Juan-Jose Barbancho, Rodrigo Alonso, Blanca de la Torre/Inmaculada Prieto, Angel Quintana, Carlos Trigueros, Manuel Saiz, Huang Du/Miao Xiaochun, Jyotsua Kapur, Yong-uk Lee, Jinsuk Suh, Hou Hanru, Hyun-Suk Seu, Johan Pijnappel, Albina Manning, Yonghee Sung, Bijana Ciric, Kentaro Taki, Howard Besser, Yasuhiro Nishimura, Eung-A Kang, Sumitomo Fumihiko, Won-Kon Yi, Ross Harley, Liz Hughes/Caroline Farmer and Simon Maidmen/Vikki Mcinness.
MASTERPIECE: PRESERVING THE INTANGIBLE LEGACY ·
Collecting the intangible, Sharing intellectual property
By Macu Morán
In the age where all diverse artistic, scientific, philosophical and technological disciplines interact freely – associating, producing and segregating themselves as part of an incontrollable ritualistic dance – video reaches the status of an excellent expressive medium, captivating each day a higher number of art and thought lovers, both messengers and receivers.
Time, a divine mysterious fear of mortals, becomes an active entity in the universe of perceptions, multiplying the artistic experience into an incalculable number of visual impacts that choreograph an extended final sensation.
Video finally enters into the artistic sphere with an abrupt impetus. Far behind are its long and difficult beginnings, in which scarce pioneers lost their breath while creating an avant-garde of moving images that hardly reached consideration at that time. Just after this odyssey a new collective consciousness dawns, digesting this logical evolution, and not even the most conservative are able to stop the exacerbated growth of this contemporary medium of expression. It is time for a medium that not only sublimates each and every sense, but also incorporates a dimension of vital importance that demands our full attention.
Professional and amateur artists alike enthusiastically research this new set of paints and brushes, affirming themselves without prejudices on technology and bravely accepting the challenges. Consciousness grows in the public sector for the importance of this art medium, whilst the majority of private collectors tepidly follow.
The art (and responsibility) of collecting this intangible heritage means a great intellectual deal. The most passionate collectors have not thought this through twice, convinced by its historical transcendence and unable to deny its strong expressive force. The same happens with public collections.
However, most of the collectors find themselves overwhelmed by their inexperience regarding the appropriate storage, display and restoration of this singular art work, and nostalgic from the loss of uniqueness in the artistic object of today. This lack of private support has definitely restrained its proper evolution and qualitative development as artistic medium over the past decades.
The clarification of the collector’s market of audiovisual artworks has also been absolutely necessary in order to create international standars that artists and galleries respect when controlling the value and assuring the preservation of the full quality of the work in years to come. It opens up the season for videoart, one of the most attractive and less speculative purchases available at the current art market, especially favorable for those who are already sharpening the eye for it.
Despite incongruent concerns, video art collecting does not differ at all from collecting any other medium able to be duplicated or falsified. This applies especially for the so extended digital painting, photography, prints, and sculpture, where the resale rights of the limited edition seal the value of the piece over time.
Even if these pieces, as may be the case with traditional paintings, could be copied and even exactly duplicated some day, without the original certification and its acquisitions trajectory, brave would be the auction house or specialist that take the risk of reselling it.
In fact limited edition of originals in audiovisual have indeed a key difference with the thousands of copies that may be issued: it compiles the non-compressed full quality of the master. This original master is normally provided in either a Digital Betacam or a miniDV tape, along with and the certificates and couple of DVD compressed copies.
Often the original edition includes also a certification of public exhibition rights with profit possibilities, even if limited to the immediate field of the buyer. This means that if a museum acquires a piece, they could exhibit it in an exhibition without paying the exhibition fees to the artist, while if loaned to another museum, those would need to be covered.
The future existence of the audiovisual piece depends on the responsibility of the collectors regarding the proper conservation of the full quality of the work: restoring it when needed and transferring it to the future contemporary format when needed. Gradually growing are the museums and enterprises that offer this technical services to private collectors, which strongly facilitates the labour.
The amplitude that the clarification of the market of audiovisual art reaches also sees interesting possibilities in reconciling the conflicts of interest of the profession, its market, and the interchange of intellectual production among artists, which the massive development of cultural networks undoubtedly are heading towards.
Sharing knowledge, or more specifically sharing the artistic production itself, is absolutely compatible with the audiovisual art market. The original work not only does not lose value by being used by other artists in their own investigations, but it increases its diffusion, respect and status as a venerated piece of extensive influence, commonly regarded as a master piece.
Keeping this in mind, while the artist may intrinsically own the copyright based on the mere fact of having created the piece, it is his or her own decision to tag it with any of the open content licenses, allowing others to use it for their own purposes, quoting the artist and the original piece. Public collectors are aware of this process, growing the number of prestigious museums that promote this dynamic conscious about the evolution of culture, and the revalorization that this process produces in their collection of original certified pieces. Another issue is whether or not the derivative pieces incorporate enough value to the creation in order to be considered it a new art work of considerable transcendence and receive the support of critics, curators, the public and the market.
In any case, we can be thankful that the clarification of the audiovisual market that VideoArtWorld actively promotes has broken barriers insisting upon the respect of the right to access culture, and explains how the divulgation and massive access to the work does nothing else but contribute to the value of the original piece and increase the artist’s international recognition and respect in the intellectual networking spheres.
Because of this, distribution of compressed DVD copies for private or educational use as well as files adapted to telematic communication, strongly helps the representative galleries to reach international audiences and revalorize the artist and his or her entire body of work. Fortunately, far are the days of the incongruent secrecy of works reserved to the exclusive eye of the collector, castrating their ability to ever reach the category of a masterpiece.