Introducing s[edition], an online art gallery where you can buy your own digital art at affordable prices. The virtual platform for contemporary art was cofounded by famed art dealer Harry Blain and is designed to bring art to a new audience. It is free to sign up and users can follow artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin in the same way as they would follow a blog or a user on tumblr. s[edition] offers limited edition art in a digital format which can be bought for as little as £5 and can be displayed on various digital devices anywhere such as smartphones or through the free iPad app. The user is able to browse art by contemporary artists and become a virtual art collector. The digital art on offer is all limited edition and there are a few thousand copies of each artwork on offer. Purchases can be stored in your ‘vault’ and come certified with edition numbers and a certificate of authenticity signed by both the artist and s[edition]. It is art in the age of new technology.

The website also boasts exclusive interviews with the artists whose work is on the virtual market. However, while s[edition] is certainly an affordable fun way of collecting, for me, it raises many questions, namely; what exactly is the worth of digital art – especially if the concept only lasts in the short term? As soon as the next technology comes along will it be forgotten? The practicality of the concept is questionable, how can you display an artwork easily digitally? While sales of devices like iPads are on the rise, it is only a small percentage of people who have the means to show off this type of art in their own homes. It could well be a fad, the virtual nature of the product seems all a bit too good to be true, and in fact it is. One is forbidden from printing their own hard copy of their purchase – it purely for digital viewing. It seems slightly simulated, an illusion of your very own Hirst original is actually an untouchable image owned by thousands of others, it is not unique, you may as well buy a print, at least then you can be certain that in ten years from now when goodness knows what has been invented, you can still have it hanging proudly on your wall.

Furthermore, the inevitable question – is it really art? Being such a new concept it is bound to raise a few eyebrows and many critics will no doubt challenge the credibility of the idea. It is too idyllic, paying for an idea of owning your own masterpiece – except it’s not really yours, and other people have it too. It isn’t unique nor is it going to be yours forever. It won’t be a family heirloom, but it will be a fashion statement for today, and if you’re lucky, it may even stick around until tomorrow. While I must admit I do enjoy browsing the virtual art on offer, I doubt that I’ll be buying anything from the online gallery anytime soon.

Click here to visit the s[edition] website

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

2 thoughts on “s[edition]

  1. WOW! Thank you SO much for this article! Its great to finally see someone looking at digital art, and what it means now, and what it means in the future. Fortunately I have the pleasure of working with many creatively minded people, and we’ve seen a trend growing toward digital art. One friend even remarked while looking at some digital art (which was printed and then hung on the wall) “Isn’t that cheating?”

    Although I believe digital art has its place, and it can be art, I believe like you, it will never replace an original, something you work towards having. Even if it is just a slightly affordable print you can hang on your wall. Sadly I think the digital thing is going to be a fad, much like digital books. Even though say an ipad is handy,…and people argue it has long battery life, nothing ever will replace the feeling of a book in your hand, the way it feels and smells (new or old) and the plus side is you don’t have to plug it in at night to charge it.

    With art, the problem of going digital, if it is a piece that is relatively large in size originally, the full affect of the piece will never be achieved! (Don’t you think?) If its a piece that has a lot of intricacies, sure you might be able to zoom in digitally, but the beauty of finding those intricacies is being able to view it and stare at it whenever you feel like, and for hours at a time if you want. On a digital device…you have limited time to do so.

    The s[edition] like you say seems to be a trend. Over here it seems like if you have an iphone or ipad, it sends a message to the rest of the world you have achieved some sort of monetary status. I guess to have digital art you can only view on these devices is just the next step beyond that?

    Again thank you for posting this!

    1. yes i agree that it will probably be a fad, although i doubt many people know about it yet
      and again with the idea of monetry status, you’d have to have one of these devices to show it off
      so i guess it’s the same kind of thing, which is unfortunate

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