Patricks piece on net art and financial models was thorough and clear. I am
trying to think if there is anything to add to what he wrote.
He mentioned the idea of public art and how net based practice can
interface to that model both conceptually and financially. This is true.
Most of my practice over the past 20 years has been non-object based and
nearly always temporary in nature and the bulk of what I have done which
has actually turned a profit has been public work, either outdoors or for
specific indoor sites. In all of these cases the work was commissioned and
the money was thus not a fee but rather the costs of producing the work,
employing collaborators, assistants, specialists, etc and then those costs
associated with putting it up. The artist then takes a percentage of all
that. This is also a little like the performance model Patrick hinted
at...in that theatre producers often work this way, putting together a
patchwork of funding for something that only exists once the funding is in
The trouble I found with this model was that to make it worthwhile you
needed to do large, and often ever-larger, projects that maximise the
resources and numbers of people involved. The bigger the project, the more
high profile, the more likely the funders will support it, the more money
involved and thus the bigger the slice of the cake for the artist (and
This might all sound fine...but there is a downside. Working like that
tends to be very inflexible. Projects get bigger and bigger and with more
money the artist has more responsiblity...until it gets to the point where
they start to lose control of the work...the accountants and project
managers you find yourself employing to make all the bits fit take over and
you become a cog in the process of your own work. Not pleasant.
One of the reasons I started to work more with the net was to find a way
out of this model whilst still remaining close to what I like doing best
(working with interactive and behavioural systems). But then we are back to
being broke. So, then you start to do commissioned net based "public"
works. Then we are in danger of being swamped again.
Perhaps I (we?) just don't like the responsibility that comes when you have
money (and peoples expectations) coming into your projects?
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The Great Wall of China @ http://www.greatwall.org.uk/
Babel @ http://www.babel.uk.net/
Research Professor (Digital Media)
Art and Design Research Centre
School of Cultural Studies
Sheffield Hallam University