|Portion of image on "Imaginary Museum Projects" by Tjebbe van Tijen|
It's not an easy question to answer. You can't just throw money up in the air and expect it to rain art. So where does one start?
First off, let's look at the different sorts of collectors. I see three broad groupings of Internet Art collectors:
1. The young people, the people of modest means and the older people of this world. Counting the people of the third world, this is by far the largest group. For these the opportunity to view and enjoy a work of art should freely available without restriction.
2. The ordinary people of this world. By this I mean the people who live in houses and (traditionally) hang pictures pictures on their walls. For this group, the opportunity to view art should relate to the cost of the paintings and other items they collect.
3. The patrons of this world. The people who support artists such as Matthew Barney, Jeff Coons, Damien Hurst, Bruce Nauman et al. For these people the opportunity is to be the patrons of future art - to discover new talent and to be recognized as givers.
Now what could our imaginary organization do to help these three categories of collectors?
1. Young, modest and old.
Virtually all the Internet art that has been done to date, since it is freely available, supports this group. There could be a lot more and it could be a lot better. For example, there could be targeted social networks to help art lovers bookmark and discuss new sites. There could be curatorial and docent pages to help visitors learn to appreciate Internet Art.
But the overarching element, given that most young artists are likely to be members of this category, would be to provide hosting and support services for artists seeking a place to put their web sites.
Secondly, looking at things like the Google Summer of code and the YouTube symphony as examples, it is not hard to image a summer of Internet Art where students are invited to submit proposals for awards to work on a summer project. Some could be individual, some could be collective. The sponsors could be a combination of private and non-profit organizations.
2. Ordinary People
For this category, I see web sites being created and sold to collectors as multiples. Every collector's work would have a unique URL and probably at least a small customization such as "This web site is in the collection of Mary Jones". The domain name registration and hosting would be offered as a service and sold as extra. The initial purchase might include a number of years of support. The price would be average a few thousand dollars per individual site with the artist typically offering ten or so examples.
In most cases, these web sites would be sold or auctioned by galleries. The role played by our imaginary organization would be a supplier of hosting, domain name, portal, and publicity services. Keeping Internet Art sites continuously available would be the bread and butter of our imaginary organization.
At the high end is where I get a little bit uncertain. For the time being there is no high art web artist. And, as far as I know no top ranked artist in any other medium has attempted to create a web site as a work of art. It will happen sometime. It's just a question of when and which will come first the collector or the artist? Actually, it will probably be the gallery. But when the patrons do start collecting Internet Art they too will need the hosting and other support service. They because the sites they collect will be highly visited there may be significant bandwidth issues.
Also at this level there will be greater demands such as (thinking off the top of my head) web sites that need thirty simultaneous screens, web sites that control robots or have other tele-presence issues, web sites that interact with huge audiences. All of these are special needs and, again, or imaginary organization could be instrumental in sourcing and supporting these needs.
There are many more issues and possibilities. I hope to discuss these in future posts.
But for now let's just finish by thinking of the structure of our imaginary organization. Is it a museum? It is a private company? First, I don't think is a traditional museum. The needs of collectors and the obligations of a museum are different (see my previous post). Is it a private company? Possibly, but I do feel that most people would want to keep their art out of commercial hands. They would prefer an organization with a longer term point of view. So I see the ideal structure of our imaginary organization as being a foundation or a not--for profit with a charter to support Internat artists, their art and their collectors.