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Finance and Society: Contemporary art, capitalization and the blockchain: On the autonomy and automation of art’s value

"With respect to art’s valuation methods, there is a parallel between the increasing automation of the financial sector – aimed at the maximization of differential accumulation through the elimination of the human element5 – and contemporary tendencies in the socio-cultural realm. This is made evident by platforms such as ArtRank and Artsy. ArtRank is an art market analysis platform that uses data mining and machine-learning algorithms to inform subscribing collectors and institutions, upon payment, about the latest collecting opportunities. In doing so, it reportedly facilitated a 4,200 percent return on investments over a 16-months period (ArtRank, n.d.: para. 2). In contrast to the social interaction required by post-Internet art in the attention economy (see Moss, 2013; Troemel, 2013), ArtRank short-circuits the valuation process by ranking artists directly on the basis of their sellability. It does this through complex correlations among datasets that involve Google Trends and Instagram data, in addition to “Internet presence, auction results, market saturation, market support and CV data – education, representation, et cetera” (Goldstein, 2015: para. 58). In other words, ArtRank treats artists’ names as commodities, and sorts them according to hype on the basis of the circulatory logic of the market. As Bloomberg puts it: “ArtRank gives art the stock market treatment” (Altman, 2015). In this way, ArtRank exacerbates the condition of ‘Artists Without Art’ identified by Brad Troemel et al. (2012: para. 4). This is the condition by which artists are clustered into homogenous groups according to the activity of sorting, ranking, and matching algorithms, ultimately turning contemporary art into self-referential closed loops, so that “the artist-viewer and other artist-viewers are caught in a sphere of perpetual reception and distribution” (Troemel et al., 2012: para. 6)."

Read the whole journal article by Laura Lotti at Finance and Society


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