Photo Credit: Joan Jonas/ Enrico Fiorese

Digital Art Comes Home

Sep 24, 2021 | By: LX Collection

Photo Credit: Art Basel

This weekend, 272 galleries from around the world will descend on Switzerland for Art Basel 2021, the international gathering at the cutting edge of the practice of art in the 21st century. At the pinnacle of this evolving practice is work by artists who are exploring what is now possible in the digital universe. In addition to broadening our definition of what constitutes art, these new technologies are now redefining what it means to place artwork in the home.

This year’s fair, which will include an online component as well as the in-person event, is the perfect place to discover the digital landscape and how it can elevate and deepen the private art collection, turning it into a more immersive experience in personal spaces. 

Presented at the fair this year by Gladstone Gallery, Joan Jonas’s Moving Off the Land is a set of five connected video works employing audio and visual collage techniques to explore the ocean as the creative force behind all things, as well as its status as an urgently endangered ecosystem. Both sweepingly universal and deeply personal, the piece includes Jonas reading from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Rachel Carson’s Undersea, footage of her shadow on the beach, and an examination of mermaids as one of the many myths born from the sea. Installing a work like Moving Off the Land in your home, whether the video piece itself or a digital print of an image used in one of the videos, would place you and your collection at the vanguard of this relatively new artistic medium.

Photo Credit: Joan Jonas, Museo Nacional del Prado Madrid

Displaying digital art calls on the collector to become a collaborator with the artist. “The equipment and technology needed now may not be available in the future, so understanding the underlying goals of the piece can be helpful and used as a guiding light,” said independent curator Heather Bhandari. “Since the medium is easily shared, digital artists are often very excited to find solutions for easy display” given that video art, in particular, is sold in extremely limited quantities. If a situation arises where the technology for presenting the piece has to change, like needing to upgrade the screen or projector, it becomes a part of the life of the piece—and of the relationship between buyer and artist—to find new solutions to present the work without losing the original vision.

Courtney Colman of Colman Art Advisory has learned to preempt some of the aesthetic questions raised by the purchase and installation of digital art. “I was discussing an interactive artwork by teamLab with a client. It is a gorgeous digital video of flowers and as a viewer moves near the wide screen, flower petals respond by swirling and floating around,” Colman said. “We talked about placing a work like this in a prominent hallway so passersby would set off a cascade of floating petals.”

For those interested in collecting in the digital format, Jacolby Satterwhite’s work lends itself particularly well to telling stories in this space. An artist whose work is largely video- and performance-based, he also explores digital animation and virtual reality. Satterwhite’s work appears as if it’s from an alternate reality, where the analogue past meets the cyber-kinetic future. His monumental neon piece Flying Negro will be featured at Art Basel by Mitchell-Innes and Nash.

Other standouts to be aware of in the Online Viewing Room include Antoine Catala, whose installations combine the immediacy of both sculpture and video. Also, be on the lookout for Anicka Yi and Josh Kline, whose works were featured in the seminal 2019 Museum of Modern Art exhibit New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century. That show gave us a glimpse at how collecting digital art now and in the future can change not only how we relate to our art collections, but also how we might add new dimensions of aesthetic experience to our homes. Art Basel—in 2021 more than ever—is sure to build off that legacy through its inspiring lineup of artists working at the intersection of technology and creation.