Why we need digital art awards




As the acceptance of digital art grows, there is also an urgent need for quality validation and recognition of artists who explore radical ideas and achieve creative breakthroughs. This is where the art prices come in. Generic prizes like the Turner Prize and the Hugo Boss Prize have in recent years recognized multidisciplinary artists, including those who use video and photography in their work. However, by design, they are not currently equipped to champion digital art. The Lumen Prize, which was launched 10 years ago, is perhaps the world’s largest art award focused on artists working in the field of technology. Previous winners included Mario Klingemann (2018) and Refik Anadol (2019), who are among the leading artists in new media today. The VH Prize, launched in 2016, is a new media-focused award for Asian artists.

Why are art prices relevant at this stage of digital art evolution? To begin with, to enable promising new media artists to be considered mainstream artists in their own right. According to a 2021 Art Tactic report, more than half of the most promising next-generation contemporary artists have graduated with a master’s degree in fine arts from a traditional art school. Compare that with the majority of emerging digital artists who come from diverse backgrounds ranging from photography, media, graphic and web design, animation, games or computer programming. These artists are more likely to be self-taught and unlikely to have studied at a traditional art school. Until recently, recognition as a beautiful artist was not accessible to them.

Dejha Ti & Ania Catherine, “I’d Rather Be In Dark Silence Than” (2021) Lumen Prize Winner 2021 BCS Immersive Environment Award (Image courtesy of the Lumen Prize)

Validation through platforms like the Lumen Prize can help bridge the recognition gap for emerging artists. Digital artists can challenge individual biases when a curator is either unable to technically understand their creative process or critically appraise the work. Artists often have to bridge the gap by writing about their work on their websites and blogs or explaining it through interviews or on social media platforms.

Art Prizes can also help support the validation process by bringing together diverse and expert juries. Such panels help create a richer conversation around multidimensional aspects of gender by recognizing examples in subcategories such as generative art and immersive, multisensory experiences that push the boundaries of digital art.

The Art Prizes are not an end in themselves. More holistic support for greater digital innovation could include funding projects for laureates through commissions and access to multidisciplinary experts for collaboration and technological expertise, both of which are more critical. for new media artists than for traditional artists. Nye Thompson, who won the Lumen Prize Gold Award 2021, was initially shortlisted in 2018 and 2019, and then one of those works was acquired by the V&A. Lumen Art Projects has also since partnered with the Barbican to exhibit Nye’s video installation “Insulae” (from the island) (2019) as part of the Sky Arts 50 program. the opportunity to share a virtual residency at Eyebeam, the Brooklyn-based nonprofit that provides a platform for artists to creatively experiment with technology. Another example is the Tate IK Award. In 2016, the gallery partnered with Microsoft and offered a £ 15,000 prize and a £ 90,000 project grant to award winners who partnered with AI experts and web developers and used APIs. machine learning to create their stand-alone virtual gallery of images reinterpreting works from the Tate collection. Unfortunately, the sustainability of such museum initiatives has often been limited to the availability of sponsorships.

Jungwon Seo, “We Maketh God” (film still) (2021), shortlisted for 4th VH Award (image courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group VH Award)

When businesses independently sponsor awards, they tend to align the awards with their business goals. Samsung’s Collaboration Award with Niio focuses on digital art that can be displayed on their LED wall displays, while the Autodesk Flame Awards recognize the champions of Flame, its premium software for editing and visual effects. . The Hyundai-founded VH Prize was only open to Korean artists for the first three editions and was extended to other Asian artists in the fourth edition in 2021.

This control must change. To have a bigger impact over time, these rewards shouldn’t be held hostage just as platforms to showcase the latest technology or as marketing tools for priority markets. They must invite diverse participation both in terms of geographies and media used for creation and display and recognize work that goes beyond what the art market wants.

Lawrence Lek, “Black Cloud” (film still) (2021), 4th VH Award Grand Prix winner (image courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group VH Award)

As digital art prices evolve, in addition to creating more diverse juries given the multidisciplinary ethics at play, they must also involve the wider online community. Providing the winners with support for exhibitions and funding for future projects would be one way of making these awards more nurturing relationships. It is also crucial that the awards are supported by a tight-knit consortium of collaborators such as foundations, museums and art residences, which will prevent unilateral corporate sponsors from distorting the mandates of the award. In addition to artists, such awards would also do well to recognize digital art writers and curators, as they play a central role in making the genre more accessible to a wider audience. Finally, in what is an exciting prospect, digital art prizes are a natural fit for democratizing member-based communities like Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), whether traditional institutions in the art world are up to date. height or not.

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