New publication on distribution
The project 'Putting Distribution On The Map' aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of emerging distribution practices and platforms. The resulting publication A New Era For The Distribution Of Media Art is now available.
Challenges for the distribution of media art
In recent years, media art distributors have seen their distribution and revenue models eroded. The focus on shareability and mass distribution – rooted in the ideals of early video art – was always at odds with the scarcity-based model of the art world but is now also challenged by emerging digital economies.
Profound shifts in artistic practice over the past decades have also posed challenges to existing distribution models. More artists become engaged in digital art, using custom-built software or AI-driven tools, producing live AV performances, immersive installations or game inspired experiences.
Unfortunately, due to their technical complexity, the distribution of media art often falls between the cracks, fitting neither the model of the film or visual arts world nor existing video art distribution.
Research findings: a distributional turn yields new
Exploring the potential of strategies such as festival-based distribution, commodification through encapsulation and emulation, and decoupling ownership from possession (e.g. NFT’s) shows the still lopsided foundations of an infrastructure tailored for software-based art. This raises the question: how can a distributional turn, calling on the expertise of media arts distributors, strengthen this new infrastructure?
In media art, works that exist only as files constitute a particular category. How do various types of digital platforms and their ingrained distribution models create opportunities for fair and sustainable distribution for this type of software-based art?
Transformation of distribution
These questions have been lingering around but gained momentum due to the COVID-pandemic. As a result, this publication explores the acceleration of media art distributors’ transformation by critically embracing emerging technologies and innovative strategies that guarantee public accessibility, thus opening up a new era for the distribution of media art.
About the research project
This research, conducted in 2019-2022, aimed to map the state of digital art distribution internationally. It investigated various distribution models and their financial business models for video art, art-as-files and software-based installations. The project seeked to gather insights through a literature review and interviews with distributors, artists, festivals, platforms, and other stakeholders to assess successes, challenges, and learnings from different distribution practices.
Furthermore, the researchers focused on distribution model business cases. More insights about current practices were generated through collaborations with other organisations and a round table meeting with fellow distributors at the end of 2020 when the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic gradually became apparent. In a subsequent phase, attention was paid to new technologies through online platforms for distribution.
Rachel Somers Miles & Gaby Wijers (eds.) - A New Era for the Distribution of Media Art. Amsterdam, LI-MA, 2023.
Paperback / 132 pages / ISBN: 978909036902
With contributions by Stefan Glowacki, Rachel Somers Miles, Gaby Wijers & UBERMORGEN.
Design: Pier Taylor