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DEBUT MAGAZINE

In Conversation With Rory Blain

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Sedition Art has fast become the talking point of the art and business worlds. The director, Rory Blain, treated us to a fascinating exposition of the new platform, which allows users to purchase digital images and build digital collections – the first serious foray of fine art into virtual reality.

1. How did the story of Sedition Art come about and why did you guys decide to launch a digital limited edition online platform?

Sedition was conceived of quite some time ago – back in the 90s in fact. At that time it simply wasn’t possible – it’s really only in the last few years that what we do has become possible, largely through advancements in screen resolution and internet bandwidth/access. The idea behind Sedition is very simple – firstly we wanted to bring the traditional art world ‘multiple’ into the modern era; Sedition’s digital limited editions are the modern day equivalent of silkscreens, etchings and woodcuts. Secondly we wanted to make the artworks more widely accessible, both in terms of price, and in terms of how and where you can view them. Most art lovers are priced out of the market when considering works by the most well known contemporary artists. Sedition allows collectors to purchase works by these celebrated figures at a fraction of the price of their physical artworks.

2. You seem to be working with very famous artists and have recently started introducing emerging artists too. What’s the selection criteria and what makes you decide to work with an emerging artist?

We work with a number of independent curators who suggest artists and bring ideas, and we are approached by artists and collectors with their views and suggestions also. We are very fortunate to work with some incredible artists, many of whom are very well known – but our intention is to exhibit and present the best of the art we find – not only the well established. Many of the pioneers of digital art don’t have the traditional structures – such as galleries – in place to support their work. Sedition offers a platform for these artists also.

3. Where do you see Sedition in 5 years time?

We are currently expanding the platform and developing a number of new features and products: more apps, a purpose-built viewing screen and a physical sales unit. These developments should translate to a much wider awareness and a more established presence – we are working with several leading museums to exhibit the works, and to allow collectors to purchase Sedition works directly from the museum gift shops or the site of the exhibition. We have a partnership with Samsung whereby they have preloaded the Sedition app onto their SMART TVs – we are working with them in the coming 12-24 months to release editions of artists from specific regions in South East Asia, and we are in discussion with potential partners in China to develop the platform over there. In 5 years time I would expect Sedition to be established in those regions and to have built upon our success in Europe and the US.

4. How and why do you think you and your business is changing the fabric of the art world globally?

The ability to own an original work of art by a world renowned artist at an affordable price is arguably the biggest challenge to the status quo. Affordable is a relative term of course, but the artworks we offer are designed for devices – iPads, iPhones, Android phones, tablets, and TVs – if a collector has one or more of those devices then the chances are the artworks are affordable to them. Access is the other big change – traditionally an artwork is enjoyed on the wall of your home, or a gallery or museum or similar space. Sedition allows a collector to carry their digital works with them – they can be viewed, shared, and contemplated wherever you go! There has been a lot of talk about how the digital revolution will be the death of traditional media – this I have never believed. Much like the emergence of photography – the digital realm is just one more tool for artists to use, and in fact adds depth and scope to the contemporary landscape.

5. How unique is the technology behind Sedition and are there any plans to white label it to others?

The technology that underpins the platform is not unique – we are essentially presenting video files and still images. Some of the more creative developments have related to security – we have some patents pending for some of our solutions to security issues and our development team is quite proud of some of the advances they have made in this field. We don’t have any plans to white label Sedition technology at this time.

6. What have been the biggest challenges in communicating what you do to the rest of the art industry?

I think there is always a learning curve and a period of acceptance whenever something new is encountered. The biggest challenge was actually undertaken by forerunners in other fields – for example it has become commonplace to obtain and store music and literature in digital form, so it was only a matter of time before the visual arts also took advantage of this. These days everything is online; your finances, banking, legal documents, medical records – everything. There is still a brief learning curve for newcomers to the Sedition platform, but the use and acceptance of digital artefacts is now widespread.

7. Will we see Sedition at major fairs, organising solo or group exhibitions of certain artists?

Absolutely – we were at Istanbul Contemporary this month and we will be showing at UNPAINTED fair in Munich in January. Art Fairs are less important to us than to a gallery – we works we sell are much lower in price and don’t require a physical location – but it’s very important to support the fairs and to help to grow and develop this exciting new sector.

8. What are you favorite places in London to go and see art or any hidden gems that you’d like to share?

Wow – where to start? Londoners are spoilt for choice, the museums and galleries are world class! It’s certainly not a hidden gem, but I love the V&A museum – beautiful! A tour of west end galleries is easy to do on foot and always offers some exciting exhibitions – Pace Gallery, Sadie Coles, Gagosian, Spruth Magers, Blain Southern – all great programs and all close by. I love to see public art – seeking out the sculptures and public works dotted around the city is very rewarding (I have entire folders of photos of the Frink along Piccadilly). Best of all, many of these will cost you nothing.

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