Pioneering art in digital media
Founded in 2015, Daata is digital art An incubator that sponsors, commissions, displays and sells original digital artworks by emerging and established international artists. An art pioneer in digital media, the platform has commissioned more than 400 artworks by more than 100 artists to date, and has collaborated with galleries, museums, collections, art galleries, festivals and other organizations such as NASA, Kiasma, MOCAD, Art Basel, Phillips, Hauser & Wirth and kurimanzutto from Among many others. With an interest in supporting artists who understand artwork that connects digital and physical media, Daata’s projects are often multi-dimensional, spanning from NFT for photos and video, to physical installations and objects.
Designboom spoke with founder, David Gryn, and web3 strategist and chief technology officer (CTO), Josh Hardy, to learn more about Daata’s mission, and their views on AI tools and how digital media is disrupting the art world. “My role was to work with artists who work with techniques like artists who work with tubes of paint,” Green notes during our interview. The best artists always get the best of technology. It doesn’t make you a good artist because you have the best tools in your hand. It has always been the myth, that the tool will actually make you a good artist. It didn’t happen to anyone. Read the full conversation below.
Still from Damien Roach, second seed (2), 2022 | AI-generated video with audio, NFT | Courtesy of the artist, Data
Interview with David Green and Josh Hardy from DAATA
designboom (DB): Can you provide a Daata task? Do you collaborate with artists directly or through other galleries? How do you choose who to work with?
David Green (DG): data It started as a commissioning platform for artists working with digital media, video and audio work ostensibly, mp4, mp3. It’s always been our mojo, to this day, how do we empower and support artists working with certain technologies? We started commissioning, paying artists some fees to get their work done, making sure they get royalties on sales, and finding ways to promote it in the marketplace with results beyond just the website, like doing physical events. I have a background in coordinating and facilitating projects with galleries like Art Basel and encouraging galleries and artists to display their digital work when they wouldn’t normally bring it to an art gallery. I’ve been doing this for 20 years and called Daata nine years ago. While I’m doing this, we’ve commissioned about a hundred artists, and we have a lot of galleries to work with while often collaborating with museums and art galleries.
I always wished there was a bigger market and there were more than two platforms doing what I did and what we did. Now we have this tsunami of platforms and it puts us in a very interesting place. This possibility brings over excitement almost unlike before, when we were trying to get people excited just because one person was watching a video. Expectations have changed, everything has changed in the last couple of years and we even had to re-calibrate. We weren’t a tech platform when we launched, we were a website built by partners very close to us who had the technical capabilities to create a website where we could show videos, but we weren’t technical. Josh (Hardy) joined us, took over the website, and built our capabilities to do projects with NFTs, augmented reality, all the things we realized we had to make sure we could do before we could breathe. Everyone was approaching us to work with but we still didn’t feel like we were in the perfect place just because we had artwork and artist content. We didn’t want to say yes to everyone just to help their business model. We may have had to do some grace, more of our own, but that was how we felt that we could believe in what we were doing and trust the process, not just for ourselves, but for the artists we represented and worked with.
Dead Project: While some platforms, like yours, have been around for a few years now, this moment feels really new and exciting for digital art. Like things somehow are just getting started.
Directorate General: It’s one of those times when you just know you have to take a deep breath and reset and not be afraid of it. Change is often scary for people, but I think nurturing an artist is always about nurturing something that will change all the time, because that’s what artists do. We have to be a platform that can support that but also breathe with it and be able to change along with the artists we work with. But they also want to know that we will be a strong platform and protector for them as well. So it’s about how we move forward together, while new artists come in. We’re currently talking to artists in their early twenties, who are doing a great job and we know that. They come with technologies that someone in their 30s, 40s, or 50s might not have.
We’re seeing something very new and exciting, things like artificial intelligence and virtual reality that weren’t there. Those who have grown up with these really have a different understanding. It’s a bit like going to Western City or going to see ceramics somewhere like Tokyo or Kyoto. You realize that there is a different appreciation for this issue because it comes from a place that believes in and trusts this material in a different way than the way we were brought up. In a way, that clock was going really fast with digital, whereas it probably took thousands of years with ceramic.
Still image by Damien Roach, SEED TWO (ii), 2022, courtesy of the artist and Daata
DB: Are you exclusively interested in the digital field or are there physical extensions to what you do?
Josh Hardy (JH): Actually “Seed”, the project we just launched with Damien Roach has a physical component. It mainly consists of NFTs, which are videos created from an artificial intelligence model that he trained on 19th century Dutch flower paintings.
Directorate General: He’s a musician, so he also created a soundtrack that showcased the sound of the orchestra. The first buyer of the longer video-based work gets a skateboard, then there’s an additional 55 NFT pieces that are shorter, and they come with a fragrance! We also have a limited edition of 55 T-shirts, non-NFT related, all different. Merchandise is included in some of the things we do with artists because it adds some sort of repertoire and dialogue around the work. It’s not just Merch’s logic, it’s the feeling of the NFT world and the idea of being able to own things. Not only for those who can afford the more expensive things, but also to enable other types of ownership. It’s not really profitable, but it’s part of the narrative. In fact, most of the artists we work with are really passionate about marketing. I think they see the world of pop and they think it’s the same thing. It’s not, there are huge fans with the pop world. Even at the end of the art world, you don’t have that level of interest. You don’t have millions upon millions of followers for any particular art form, people might be aware of, but I can’t see an equation. Maybe with the music world when it’s at the top level.
JH: I just think things are disrupted by technology. Every industry is in turmoil, and in a way I think it’s the art world to reckon with the internet and technology. It didn’t work before, but solving the digital file ownership problem means you can distribute the artworks and when you have that volume of distribution you naturally start thinking, well, if we can distribute to a lot more people, we can lower the price. So the vertical thinking about the art world, where some people sit here and then everyone there goes to the gallery and pays to go see some stuff on the wall, suddenly flips on its side. It is much broader and everyone can participate and participate. It may not be elitist.