Interview with Eugenia Bertelè, art manager at Look Lateral
In occasion of the Art World Forum appointment with the theme “Emergence&Confluence” hosted in association with START Art Fair on 13th September at the Saatchi Gallery in London, I met up with Ms. Eugenia Bertelè, art manager at Look Lateral, an editorial project of contemporary art and a blockchain-based platform, to learn more about the art market’s current state and understand how an innovative venture like Look Lateral is disrupting the art industry.
TM: Thinking about how art and technology work together now on the same ground, what does the contemporary art market have in common with technology?
EB: Art and technology share the character of innovation. Both languages are constantly defining and reshaping the world we live in: they are able to engage people creating unique experiences and they change perceptions and feelings about the surrounding reality. Technology is not only an efficient tool that we can apply to the art market, it’s a way to transform our legacy and heritage through the language of innovation, enabling to democratize the art world. I see a parallelism with the origin of Look Lateral, an art editorial project born in one of the finest examples of the Renaissance culture, that today has its technologic headquarter in Seattle, one of the most relevant tech incubators of the world.
Technology is part of our cultural evolution. Artists have always played with technology from the experimentations in the ’60 and ‘70 to the Net art during the Internet revolution in the ‘90 and today we see that artists playing with the blockchain in order to regulate the reproduction of digital art. Furthermore, according to the 2017 Art Market Report of Art Basel the percentage of online art sales represent the 8% of the total corresponding to approximately 5,4 billion USD of the 63.5 billion dollars of the art market and it’s expected to grow to 9 billion USD in 2021. If art is an asset, the art system has to start solving some controversial issues. The question is: would technology be able to disrupt the art market as it has done in many other aspects of our daily life?
TM: How do you think it is possible to bring more transparency, accessibility and liquidity into the art market?
EB: The art market is known for its lack of liquidity and regulation. It’s known for its volatility and high transaction costs. Art secured loans are very expensive. The number of potential buyers stays very limited.
Look Lateral’s aims to offer instead an ecosystem where museums, galleries, curators, universities, artists, collectors would see them benefited using the blockchain technology which is nowadays representing the natural evolution of the internet era, democratizing information and creating transparency. It gives the opportunity to create a consistent, permanent and secure database for visual arts. The ecosystem is divided in four stages. The first is tagging the art piece, which means applying a physical tag on a painting or on a certificate of authenticity in case of ephemeral artworks in order to identify the object to the blockchain. Second is the Provenance System, which offers the platform to collect and keep all information of an artwork protected. The third is the pricing stage. Look Lateral has created algorithms that calculate values of artworks based on the information available (secondary market sales’ data, exhibition history, etc.), trying to set objective prices. When this process is completed, the artworks can be securely traded in fractions, through smart contracts, into the FIMART platform, where everybody can invest from $10 and participate to the art market. This ecosystem should generate transparency of information, promote the access to the art world by a wider audience and increase liquidity opening the market to funds, crypto investors and every art enthusiast.
TM: Focusing on communities and the creation of digital networks, artists and art enthusiasts are building strong global and virtual shared platforms. How do you think it will impact the art world?
EB: Creative networks and virtual communities have gained an unprecedented scale. We know that the global art market is still concentrated in a few countries (USA, China, UK are the top trade centres), but communication tools and social networks have changed the perception of distance and create communities devoted to art. The idea of a portable art market on our mobile phones is a way to transform the accessibility and the participation of people in the construction of values for the contemporary art. Look Lateral in fact, is currently working on a loyalty program that will reward people who participate and engage with the platform through actions, sharing of knowledge and contents. We hope that communities will help to expand the art market and, consequently, the art heritage in a long term way.