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June 2000

The Future of Digital Art
An Interview with H-Ray Heine

Sergey Teterin:
Hello H-RAY, I am writing about digital art for In the next number I want to touch upon the subject "How a Net-artist can sell (offset) his art". 

How can one sell net art?

H-Ray Heine:
To my mind, the answer to this question is developing as we speak. The internet already has revolutionized the way art is experienced and distributed, and it will also change the ways in which art is sold. 

What I envision is a situation where collectors purchase digital art in the form of downloads, very similar to the way in which software in general is being sold.

It is not difficult to develop of system of editions in which, for example, only 100 copies of an interactive work are available for purchase. Each download would have its own encrypted serial number, etc. 

For those art collectors who insist on something more tangible, CD-Roms and DVD will provide an alternative medium. 

Sergey Teterin:
What can be considered the original and, for example, how it can be "passed to a private collection"? 

H-Ray Heine:
The concept of an "original" is difficult to apply in digital media. One of the essential characteristics of digital media is its (virtually) infinite capacity of loss-free duplication. 

Further, through the new feature of interactivity, a single work can also have an infinite number of manifestations, since the output of the work is determined by a combination of random funtions and user interactions, making it impossible to predict what the work will look like each time it is activated. 

One of my recent digital works - Thought Generator - combines words to create simple sentences, commands, or haiku poems, using random functions to select words and phrases from a set of word categories that each contain between 7 - 20 words, and the output is somewhat unpredictable and different for each observer who interacts with the work. 

In other words, there is no "original" output of the work, since this varies each time the code is called, but there is, of course, the original code or software. 

Similarly, the idea of an "author" looses much of its currency in digital media. A collaborative sitework on generation/mutation v.2.1 is composed of the contributions of a large number of artists, each taking a single digital image as the starting point for their individual work and returning it with their individual modifications. 

The work as a whole, however, (the site), even though clearly original, does not have a single author but a collective of contributors and has become possible only through the use of the net.

Sergey Teterin:
Who among Net-artists manage to sell any Net thing successfully? 

H-Ray Heine:
I don't know of anyone personally, yet... It is just a matter of time. The artworld needs to develop mechanisms and practices that allow it to integrate new media art into its realm, but it will happen.

transparent backgroundsergey teterin

The Russian version of this interview can be found at:

Sergey Teterin
is a media artist and writer from Perm, Russia. For more information, please visit:




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