Posts from art

Rich Media Art Display

I enjoy rich media art and I’ve always wanted to figure out how to display it in an easy way.

We have some rich media art displays in the USV office. We have an Electric Objects and a Meural. They are nice, but they are proprietary systems and at least one of these companies has folded already.

What I’ve always wanted is the ability to showcase rich media art with standard off the shelf hardware.

So when we recently replaced an old TV with a new one, I took the old one and put it on the wall in my home office.

And when the Gotham Gal got a new Mac Mini, I took the old one and mounted it to the back of that display.

Then I cleaned up the old Mac Mini (basically a factory reset) and then launched a browser and went and found some art.

There is a lot of rich media art on Vimeo and you can put a playlist together and run it in full screen mode in the browser.

Here is my display doing that:

I also have been playing around with Sedition Art’s Art Stream service. It’s a subscription service that lets you stream twelve curated works of art that are updated weekly on your display at any time.

Here’s my display doing that:

There are some services out there that are based on Chromebit that I am interested in trying. I got a Chromebit and am working on setting that up. I will report back on that once I get it working.

My conclusion is this. If you have old displays and computers that you don’t need anymore, they are easy to turn into rich media displays. You should try it. It’s great.

Funding Friday: The Ollie Chair

The Gotham Gal is an investor and Board member of Rock Paper Robot, which designs and manufactures furniture for modern living environments. Their newest design, The Ollie Chair, is coming to market this year and they are running a Kickstarter campaign to pay for the manufacturing of the chair. It launched this week and has already passed it’s initial goal of $80k, but I know that they would like to raise more than that, and they already have. It’s an awesome chair and an awesome company. If you want to get an Ollie Chair and/or support this campaign, the Kickstarter is here.

Here’s the video. It’s great and well worth the 3mins.

Art Basel

The Gotham Gal and I just spent four days in Miami at Art Basel, one of the big global art fairs that collectors come to every year.

We have been collecting art as a hobby since we were in our mid 20s. We got a bit more serious about it in our mid 30s and have been collecting emerging artists ever since.

We have never sold any of our art and I doubt we ever will. We don’t approach art as an investment or a business. We approach it as something we enjoy doing together and enjoy having around us. We also enjoy knowing the artists and watching them develop their craft over time. We also have gotten to know and like a number of dealers over the years. 

Our focus on emerging artists is much like the angel investments the Gotham Gal makes or the VC investments my partners and I make at USV. We like to meet artists as they are starting their career and follow them, and collect them, as their careers develop.

We have bought art at shows that art students have done in undergraduate and graduate school. We have bought art at edgy underground galleries and shows where new artists and new styles emerge. I feel like these are like seed investments in some ways. 

We mostly like to buy art from the galleries that specialize in emerging artists and the art fairs that cater to this market. These are like Series A and Series B investments in some ways.

We have not participated in the more established artist sector even when the artists we have collected get there. We maybe should change that. Like USV did with our Opportunity Fund.

Over the past thirty years we have bought some wonderful pieces. We have them around us, in our offices and homes. And we get joy from them every day.

We bought some new work this week at Basel and may buy some more of what we saw in the weeks and months ahead as we think more about it.

Yesterday as we worked our way through one of the most edgy fairs down here, I asked the Gotham Gal about a sculpture we had seen about twenty minutes previously. She said “I have moved on from it”. But both of us were still thinking about another work we had seen around the same time. We ended up purchasing the latter one.

The same is true of seed and early stage investments. Sometimes when you meet a company and you like what you hear but a day or two later you aren’t enthusiastic about it. Other times you can’t stop thinking about the opportunity for days and weeks after the meeting. That’s how you know what early stage investments to make and the same is largely true with art, at least in the way that we collect it.

The Creative Independent

In a world full of click bait media and fake news, it is harder than ever to find authentic and meaningful content on the Internet. The utopian early days of blogging in the early 2000s, when this blog was started, seem long gone.

But the Internet is a vast place and there is quality content on it. Podcasts are a particularly bright spot right now and remain largely unpolluted.

The most exciting new entrant into my daily reads this year is The Creative Independent which quietly started publishing in late September.

The Creative Independent is a publication by artists for artists and is funded entirely by Kickstarter PBC and is advertising free. 

Their mission is to “is to educate, inspire, and grow the community of people who create or dream of creating.”

Each day a new post appears that is about a particular artist and it’s dives into something specific about them and their work. I follow The Creative Independent on Twitter and am taken into the world of art and artists every day. 

If you are looking for something a bit more meaningful to read every day or if you are an artist or have an appreciation for artists and their work, you may enjoy The Creative Independent as much as I do.

Paul Klee

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve taken up photoblogging this week. In an effort to inspire my daily posts, I am turning to my phone’s camera roll and finding a photo I took recently and using it to anchor my post.

The weekend before last, the Gotham Gal and I went up to the Met Breuer to check out a show by Kerry James Marshall that had gotten glowing reviews in the NY Times. Sadly that show was not yet open (why write about a show that is not open?). But happily, the museum had their collection of Paul Klee paintings on display.

klee

If there is one painter I would love to own a painting by, it is Paul Klee.

The wit and wisdom in his work lines up with my taste just perfectly.

I use his “Twitter Bird” painting as the background in my Twitter profile and have been doing that for as long as I can remember.

It’s not quite like owning a Klee painting but it works for me.

Visualizing Kickstarter

A visual data company company called Polygraph looked at over 100,000 Kickstarter projects in the US and wrote a really cool blog post about them.

This table shows the different character of the biggest cities on Kickstarter:

table

  • NYC over indexes for film, theater, and dance.
  • LA over indexes for film in a big way.
  • SF over indexes for art, design, and tech.
  • Chicago over indexes for publishing and theater.
  • Seattle over indexes for music, publishing, design, and theater.

Even more fun are the bubble charts that they created for all of the major locations on Kickstarter:

bubble_charts

Nashville is almost all red because its a music city. Atlanta produces some huge game projects.

You can learn some interesting things.

Here are the places that over index for table top games:

table-top-games

And here are the places that over index for comics:

comics

The Polygraph blog post is super interactive (unlike this post) and if you want to dig into the data, you can do it there.

Creativity is alive and well all over the world and you can learn a lot about it by studying what goes on on Kickstarter.

Takeaway Art Exhibit

The Jewish Museum in NYC, which is a terrific art institution, is doing a show next month in which forty contemporary artists will create over 400,000 artworks that visitors will be encouraged to “take away” with them when they visit the show.

This exhibit was inspired by a similar show that took place at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1995.

To help fund the production costs of all of this takeaway art, the museum has launched a Kickstarter, which the Gotham Gal and I both backed yesterday.

Backers can select from a number of these takeaway art works as rewards. There are also some great in person talks with the show’s curators in the rewards.

Here’s the project video in case this project interests you like it did us.

If you want to participate in the funding of this show, you can back the Kickstarter here.

Funding Friday: William Kentridge On The Tiber River

So I’ve decided to start up another friday theme (fun friday, feature friday, etc) called Funding Friday. I will post projects of all sorts (not just Kickstarter) that are seeking funding that I think are worthy.

We will start with an ambitious art project that is closing today.

The renown artist William Kentridge will create a mural called “Triumphs and Laments” over Rome’s Tiber River and is using Kickstarter to help fund the effort.

Here’s the video:

This is the kind of project that Kickstarter was created to support. Public art is the best kind of art, open, free, and available to all.

I backed this project when it first launched and I urge all of you to join me in helping to get this project over the line and funded.

You can do that here.

Artificial Art

Last week we opened up a new thread on USV.com to think about and discuss the intersection of creativity (art) and artificial intelligence.

We have seen a lot of interesting companies in this area but have not yet made an investment.

Of course, the entire notion that machines will help us make art or even make it without human intervention gets to the essence of what art and creativity are.

Last summer I posted an art project by Ian Cheng that my daughter was involved in. The cool thing about that art project is that it evolves over time based on rules provided to a machine. The art is initially made by humans but it evolves and changes over time using a machine. That is one of many interesting ideas that artists are exploring at the intersection of creativity and computing.

An existential question that society is grappling with right now is how humans and machines will co-exist in the future. And one of the roles of art, maybe it’s most important role, is to force us to confront issues like this.

So while the idea of using a machine to make a song or an image or a novel or a sculpture without human intervention is at some level disturbing, it is also revealing. We expect that artists will push the envelope of what is possible with technology and we also expect that technologists and entrepreneurs will be willing collaborators in this effort.

Whether this will lead to interesting investment opportunities is anyone’s guess, but we think it might. And so we are going to spend some of our time and energy thinking about it and we’ve created a public space to do that. If you are interested in this area you can follow the thread and contribute to it here.