Digital Originals

Date: January 2012 – July 2013

Funding: EPSRC: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. £74,349 (Newcastle)

Researchers: Patrick OlivierPeter WrightFeng Li (Business School).

Collaborators: Mark Blythe (Northumbria University)

The easy copying and sharing of digital files presents profound challenges for creative industries. In the context of digital art, such as that of British artist David Hockney, traditional notions of a signed original or even a limited print run begin to break down, with critics asking what or where the original image might be. For many new and aspiring digital artists this presents serious issues. New technologies and new business models are urgently needed to turn some of the challenges into new opportunities both for artists and collectors.

This project seeks to explore alternative business models for the dissemination of digital content and takes art as a case from which to learn. We will use off-the-shelf or near-to-market technologies to ensure the real world viability of any solutions we generate. This project will prototype two new systems for adding value to digital art and test the associated business models in live field studies. The two systems are:

  • The Authorised Art App investigates the use of watermarking. This would either visibly or invisibly embed information such as the date and place the work was created and uniquely relate it to the owner. If visible, the watermark would have to fit with the aesthetic of the artist, which opens up a wealth of creative possibility.
  • We will explore the ways that a physically unique object complementary to the artwork, such as a frame, could be used to give the work collectable value. A physical frame could be embedded with an RFID tag that allowed the confirmation of authenticity. Prototypes of these Digital Original Artefacts will be developed in a participatory design process with artists, dealers and collectors at Bar Lane Studios in York.