In a groundbreaking intermarriage of the digital art and auction worlds, Paddle8 and Tumblr partnered with Phillips to present Paddles ON!, a live auction, which started today.
The appeal of digital art is its engaging relevance. A standout video piece, “Inbox Full” by Molly Soda, involves the artist simply reading out her emails in monotone. Based on the appearance of the artist, who has blue-green hair and a nostril piercing, the initial subject matter evokes the counternormativity of Ryan Trecartin, but the mundane performance is as quotidian as Internet exposure has become. Similarly, Petra Cortright’s “RBG, D-Lay” simply features her pulling her hair up and down, but she manipulates the image with a spectrum of colors, imbuing the motion with psychedelic intensity. As of Oct. 9 at 9 p.m., both works had starting bids pending less than $1000, further reiterating the up-and-coming platform of the exhibition.
This showcase marks the first major commercialization of digital art. Phillips, which was acquired by the Russian fashion conglomerate The Mercury Group in 2008. The company has been in flux since it was acquired from the original Phillips family in 1999 by Bernard Arnault at LVMH, merging with Simon de Pury and Daniella Luxembourg shortly thereafter, who gained dominant control of the auction house in 2003 and named it Phillips de Pury. Now into its fifth year with The Mercury Group, Phillips is dually stabilizing and innovating structure in New York, London and in outpost offices throughout Europe.
Tumblr is a social network designed for flexible creative expression, and as such has hosted many memes and emerging artists. While this marks the beginning of Phillips’s digital art interest, Paddle8 has been at the forefront of emerging art technologies since its inception. As a major online auction house dealing in contemporary and emerging art, Paddle8 is the ideal sponsor for this kind of showcase. The proceeds from the sales will go almost exclusively to the artists, with the remaining 20 percent donated to the nonprofit Rhizome, which supports new digital artwork.
Tumblr seems to be seeking a more established art market platform. In addition to this showcase, Fitz & Co, an art world press and communications firm, recently launched a Tumblr platform specifically designed for galleries, paying homage to Duchamp and Warhol with the title Readymade. To learn more about the Paddles ON! auction, visit the official Tumblr page.