Christie’s Should Know The Difference Between New Media and Digital Art

by Paddy Johnson on September 25, 2013 The L Magazine

Vic Muniz, Hermes, 2001

This week at The L Magazine, I rant about Christie’s online-only auction, “First Open: New Media”. With a bit of smart marketing, this company could actively be working to expand a digital market. Instead, they’re producing bullshit copy and lazy auctions.

The first photography auction was at Swann Galleries in 1952: “Photography: A panoramic history of the art of photography as applied to book illustration, from its inception up to date.” (It’s often referred to as “the Marshall Sale” because the items up for auction came from the collection of Albert E. Marshall.) The full title is a little long for my taste, but I like that it tells potential customers exactly what they can buy. Compare this to the Christie’s auction “First Open: New Media,” a new online-only exhibition that runs until 10am on October 4 and explores the ways artists have placed technology and digital media “at the forefront of artistic innovation.” The catalog goes on, “The photograph serves not only as the single most important catalyst in our age of New Media, but also one of its most dynamic components.”

Ok, so the auction’s title doesn’t tell us much about its focus on photography, but we can assume that the artists will be photographers whose work can carry the new-media mantle, right? That is, that these artists manipulate technologies to create new work (like Henry Fox Talbot, a noted photographer who invented the calotype process, or Man Ray, a painter best known for reinventing the process of solarization in photographs), as opposed to “digital artists” (like Thomas Ruff, who digitally manipulates landscape photographs), which just use technology as a tool.

Not quite.

To read the full piece, click here.

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