The Value of Art  (Unruhige See)

© 2010, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau


The Value of Art © 2010, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau

The Value of Art are interactive paintings dealing with the economy of attention and value creation in the art world. When we look at prices of artworks at auctions, they often seem incomprehensible. Competing art collectors betting against each other can create skyrocketing values for art works. Relevance and attention in terms of art history, social and critical discourse are important components for becoming a desired masterpiece with high monetary value. Artists like Edward Kienholz have even written the supposed value of the art work directly onto the painting and Michael Findlay writes about the connection between the value of art and its social and economical function.

Attention is also the new currency in a media based society and within social platforms. The amount of attention towards an art piece could therefore be directly linked to its monetary value.

The Value of Art is a series of interactive experiments dealing with the value of art in a conceptual and pragmatic way.

We transform existing paintings that we buy at auction houses. We equipped them with sensors that can measure the exact time viewers spend in front of the painting. A small thermal printer is also attached to the frame of the painting. As we know exactly the price we paid for each painting and the amount of money we spent on interface materials, plus the value of our working time for producing this art work, the initial value of the work can be exactly calculated. The initial value including all expenses and costs appear printed out on the paper of the thermal printer at the beginning of the first exhibition.

Once The Value of Art interactive painting is shown, the work will start counting the number of visitors and the amount of time they spend looking at the painting. Through our integrated sensors the painting will constantly update its value, making the whole process of value creation for this artwork totally transparent. Visitors can follow how the value of this artwork increases the more viewers look at the work. At the end of each exhibition The Value of Art will have reached a certain monetary value. The artwork could now be sold for exactly that value, or sent on to the next exhibition to increase its value even further. The more people look at the work, the more valuable it will become.

The Value of Art is a critical reflection on the economy of attention, the relationship between artist, artwork and audience, and the question of monetary and ideological value of the artists and audiences time and dedication.