Digital art and survival strategies. The gift economy and inclusivity



While waiting for the preferable but unlikely (at least for now) chance that the official art world will pay more attention to digital art forms, the latter have no choice but to defend their positions, trying as hard as they can to preserve just what makes them unique.

Inclusive and exclusive art

In other words, if digital art is to have any chance at survival, it must clearly defend its niche, focusing on what it is (different), instead of seeing acceptance for what it isn’t (a form of contemporary art like all the others).

To that point, digital artists don’t make, or better yet, they shouldn’t have to make, “one-of-a-kind pieces” like other artists. Instead, they should create web projects that are meant to be shared online among a multitude of users. Their work shouldn’t be exclusive, but inclusive.

Digital art and the “culture of detachment”

The only physical barrier to enjoying digital art is the screen of the device used to view it (the same barrier, after all, that exists in film or video art). The “culture of detachment,” in which the internet is a tool that simultaneously unites and divides, is a condition and not a limit of digital art.

The gift economy and copyleft

Digital artists see the internet as a sort of virtual arena open to creativity, sharing and exchange. Works of art are created and spread on the web, eventually running their course. For this reason, those same artists love open content (creative work published with a copyleft license, meaning they can be freely distributed and used), they love grassroots projects that develop through the freely made contributions of users (à la Wikipedia), they love free exchanges, peer-to-peer collaboration, and free access. In other words, they love everything that, in the times of net art, was called the “gift economy.”

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