Illustration by Tallulah Fontaine.

Screen Resolution

United Kingdom
Also available in:  Chinese  Arabic

How the world has changed since Seditionart.com was founded three years ago! When I first started thinking about the company in the 1990s, the idea of a digital, limited-edition artwork was seen as bizarre;  “digital edition” seemed a contradiction in terms. Today, digital is a medium no less commonplace than oil-on-canvas, and for the pioneering artists of this category, a burgeoning new infrastructure is opening up to support them. That’s where Sedition comes in.

One original motivation to create this company was our awareness of a growing number of artists utilizing digital elements in their practice. It seemed natural to try to provide a platform for artists to present those works to the world—or at least to the online world. The traditional routes for showing and selling artworks were not available to many in this field; galleries were largely ignoring digital media, and auction houses have only now begun to cater to collectors’ interest in digital work.

Digital limited editions can be seen simply as a natural evolution of traditional art “multiples” such as silkscreens, etchings and woodcuts. But unlike traditional media, digital artworks can be viewed by substantial audiences in very different geographical locations at the touch of a button. This accessibility was certainly the biggest impetus behind Sedition. We wanted to bring the work of some of the best contemporary artists of our generation to a much larger audience, but in a way that would allow that audience to fully participate in collecting, buying and selling the works.

In 2013, according to the British Art Market Federation, Tate Modern received in excess of 5 million visitors, and the top 20 contemporary art institutions around the world welcomed a total of 50 million people through their doors. Yet despite this evident passion for art, many would-be collectors are priced out of the market. With affordable digital limited editions, people from a much broader swathe of society can now support the artists whose work they love. For example, Tracey Emin’s iconic neons, the “I Promise to Love You Collection,” are very popular on Sedition, and offer collectors the chance to own and display these works for as little as GBP 50 (USD 78).

Thanks to online retailers such as Apple and Amazon, we are used to consuming music and literature in the digital sphere. Art has lagged behind the digital curve in many ways, and we decided to address that. However, we wanted to do more than replicate the online marketplace for songs and books. Sedition was intended to mirror the physical domain of studios, galleries and auction houses rather than creating a new online world. The ability to both buy and sell works is a key element of this idea. Just as in the physical world, on Sedition any of our collectors can sell works they no longer want or that don’t fit their collections. These secondary market prices are decided entirely by the users and range from as little as GBP 5 (USD 7.8) up to GBP 5,000 (USD 7,710) at the moment. This exchange can take place instantaneously across time zones and continents.

Whenever possible we have tried to reflect the multifaceted, protean nature of the contemporary art landscape. Works by world-renowned figures such as Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer and Yoko Ono can be found alongside pieces by groundbreaking digital studios and artists such as the art, film and design practice Universal Everything, interactive film artist Aaron Koblin and sound artist Ryoji Ikeda. We have also developed Open Platform, a forum where all artists—established or emerging—can upload and present their work, while the invitation-only Curated section is arranged and selected by industry experts to help guide newcomers on their first steps into collecting. Yet we have still barely begun! Sedition is currently producing video interviews and uploading these with articles about artists and their work. We are creating a comprehensive database of artist profiles, complete with the latest information about their upcoming exhibitions. The platform recently presented a new limited edition digital animation by Brooklyn-based artist Brian Alfred with an invitation-only online private view during which audiences communicated with the artist through a live Twitter session. Our intention is to continue this direct interaction between audience and artist.

Although the concept for Sedition dates back to the late 1990s, it was many years before the project was realized. When we first discussed the idea, neither screen resolution nor internet bandwidth were advanced enough to allow the delivery and presentation of digital editions and, with a few notable exceptions, most artists were not using the digital medium in their practices. Today, we are working with artists preparing the first editions in 4K—horizontal resolution on the order of 4,000 pixels—quadrupling the typical resolution from two million pixels to eight million. Viewed on the new range of ultra-high-definition screens and devices, these images will possess a stunning degree of depth and detail perfectly suited for screen-based artworks.

As the digital universe continues to grow, opportunities are increasing for artists to create and display work in the digital medium. Now more than ever it is important to provide context and guidance for collectors stepping into this world, as well as a space where artists can present their work, engage with their audience and meet like-minded creators. We hope Sedition will act as an entry point to the world of contemporary art for new audiences and collectors, as well as an exciting new landscape for established art lovers, collectors and artists.