We all have a taste for some-thing that evolves into a preferred style or a unique identity. Often that taste develops into a practice of collecting that we may or may not be aware of. Whether we recognize it or not, it is relevant when considering our personal understanding of desire and value. While the tradition of collecting has been linked to tangible objects, today the digital realm is being seriously taken into consideration as a platform for collecting and here the idea of value poses new questions. Is collecting about the ownership of something you hold in your hands, a stack of weathered antique books for example, or is collecting about the organization of thought processes, obsessions and the love for a concept? Digital art galleries like NeonMob are beginning to explore that question.

NeonMob is an online gallery that invites digital artists to create collections of limited edition illustrations. Collections are accessible by becoming a member of NeonMob, which is free and easy to do. You receive 4 free credits when you sign up and thereafter you receive 4 daily freebies so your collection can grow. I took some time to look at the breadth of artists on the site and then started hashing out my collection. I was only able to see the ‘cover’ of sets so I had to take some chances on what I was getting. While the selection of works range from cartoons to digital photography my personal favorites are the ones that offer mysterious stories and abstract landscapes developed in 3D.

The company presents their collections using the term ‘limited edition’. But how can digital art be produced as a limited edition? Digital art can be copied, reposted, reblogged, printed etc. This is where the terminology NeonMob uses to describe the works factors in. Pieces are identified using a range of classification from common to extremely rare ‘prints’. This refers to how many ‘prints’ of each piece are floating around the community of NeonMob collectors. So you may own number 3/50 which would be considered rare or you could own 20/3000 which would make that piece common. At NeonMob limited editions are tied to the clan, to the community and to your personal digital collection. By creating a scarcity factor through classification and trading online the value of the work increases with the desire of a full set.

This approach to digital art is a departure from a (not too long ago) time when artists were concerned with publishing their work online for fear of not receiving financial compensation not to mention the risk of someone stealing their ideas. I chatted with Mike Ducca, the founder of NeonMob and he told me that with NeonMob this isn’t of concern. As he explained it, “Most people creating digital art are putting it online anyway. We are actually creating a way for them to monetize what they’re doing”.

There are other companies who are selling the idea of digital galleries. Sedition is a London based digital gallery that commissions well known artists like Tracy Emin to make digital work available to all. The value of Tracy Emin’s work can not be replicated through a digital gallery. What sets NeonMob apart is their investment in digital artists – often artists who have not received recognition on any other platform because that platform has been non-existent. By placing these digital works within the context of collecting they have managed to cultivate value beyond the thing and on the concept. How cool is that? We are moving into a digital era where instead of placing the the idea of value on the ownership of product it is placed on the engagement with a visual, with non tangible media and with the obsession of a concept.

 

The works are not available as prints so if you want to be clued in – sign up!