Daata And Its Founder, David Gryn, Are Leading The Digital Art Space In Art Fair Philippines 2024
Art

Daata Leads The Digital Path At Art Fair Philippines 2024

Photo by Kieran Punay

In this year’s Art Fair Philippines, Daata exhibits ‘The Best Dressed Chicken in Manila,’ a spin-off of its ‘Best Dressed Chicken in Town’ concept, shown in Art Basel Miami and inspired by an album of a Jamaican deejay.

Daata is an online gallery that finds, commissions and streams digital art. Founded by David Gryn, Daata has worked with NASA, Art Basel, Frieze, EXPO CHICAGO, Independent Art Fair, PHOTOFAIRS Shanghai, and Art Cologne. Art Fair Philippines’ collaboration with Daata began in 2021 when the fair was presented digitally due to the pandemic. At the time, Gryn was already leading in the digital art space. “We set up Daata in 2015 as a model for digital art and for artists who might work with digital media,” says Gryn. 

Gryn initially worked with the cinema in the center of London’s Leicester Square, showing artist films and making cinematic presentations with Bill Viola, Mark Wallinger, William Kentridge, Christian Markley and Susan Hiller. Daata is a culmination of Gryn’s 15 years of work. “We built the company with a straightforward model: to commission artwork in .mp4 and .mp3 files. Those two mediums have been robust since we launched. The technology we invest in it sustains itself with the ability to play video and Soundcloud. We also developed an app to show AR [augmented reality] on your phone. Then our website had to be enabled for blockchain and crypto technology.”

Photo by Kieran Punay

What Daata Brings to Art Fair Philippines in 2024

“Digital art means something to me with a bit of joy, and it’s also quite cool. I’m putting forward an idea of something that might allure you and make it fun to watch. Sound often brings me to look at art, so if I hear a soundtrack to a film, I often want to go and see what that film is, even if it’s in another room or on TV.”

In this year’s Art Fair Philippines, Daata exhibits ‘The Best Dressed Chicken in Manila,’ a spin-off of its ‘Best Dressed Chicken in Town’ concept, shown in Art Basel Miami and inspired by an album of a Jamaican deejay. The idea is that everyone–Gryn, the artists, curators, galleries and collectors–wants to be the best-dressed chicken in town. “There are a few artists I like whose artwork this year was made using AI, which is a hot topic right now. One of them is Georgie Roxby Smith. Another is Milo Creese.” Gryn’s wife, Jane Bustin, also shows in the exhibit, with a short film of a window into a world of a window into another world that was made during her residency at the Rothko Museum in Latvia. 

Gryn also gave a talk for ArtFairPH/Talks about empowering artists. He says that artists need to be paid to do the work beforehand. “It’s a huge risk we take. We own the work in tandem with the artists, but we control how we show them. The benefit is the work exists in the Daata archive, with over 1000 pieces.”

Photo by Kieran Punay

Digital Art is in A Constant State of Flux 

Art Fair’s collaboration with Daata began in 2021 when the fair was presented digitally due to the pandemic. At the time, Gryn was already leading in the digital art space. “Daata is a culmination of my previous ten to 15 years’ work with artists, moving images in digital media in the context of the cinema. We originally showed with artist films at the cinema in the center of London’s Leicester Square, making them cinematic presentations,” says Gryn. 

In the middle of that period, Gryn realized there was a need to commission artists. “We set up Daata in 2015 as a model for digital art, for artists who might work with digital media, but maybe they make other art forms too, like painting, sculpture, photographs.” Art fairs, galleries, and museums showed interest in working with Gryn to present art “that was tricky to show in a gallery or museum context.”

Fast forward to almost a decade later, and the special tapes and reels used decades ago have shifted to digital art. “We built the company with a straightforward model: to commission artwork in .mp4 and .mp3 files. Those two mediums have been robust since we launched. The technology we invest in it sustains itself with the ability to play video and Soundcloud. We also developed an app to show augmented reality, or AR, work on your iPhone. Then our website had to be enabled for blockchain and crypto technology.”

In 2021, Daata offered NFTs in their presentation at Art Fair Philippines. In 2022, they used AR; guests had to scan QR codes to view artwork on their phones in Ayala Triangle. While NFTs have had a downturn in popularity since their peak in 2021 and 2022 (but are still on offer at this year’s Art Fair under other stakeholders), AR continues to shift. AI is everywhere. However, “AI’s artistic superiority are not novel; they echo similar trends from the past. The current enthusiasm mirrors earlier media frenzies,” claims the study ‘Artificial Intelligence and the Future of the Art’ in The Journal of Cyberspace Studies. “There’s boom and bust in technology and in the economies around  them and it’s fascinating and mind-blowing what can be done, but it’s constantly changing. The file formats that you can carry on are important, because even when were doing NFTs, there was always the risk of the WiFi not working. So we’d always show the NFT as an .mp4 file and not a blockchain file. You can’t tilt to show everybody’s different technologies.”

Photo by Kieran Punay

Still, he says, art fairs today don’t show much digital media, compared to traditional art. “Often, they don’t see the value return. It’s difficult to bring it into an art fair to benefit the gallery. Daata’s mission is to sell work, but even with the NFT craze and other digital advancements, it still costs the galleries a lot of money to attend an art fair.” 

With social media as the norm nowadays, however, and with everyone looking at their screens all the time, digital art has become a much more natural language. In the past, you would only see audiences sitting briefly in front of screens at biennials, art fairs and museums. But the norm of social media, and everyone looking at their phone screens all the time, make digital art exhibits logical.

Daata’s exhibit at Art Fair Philippines this year includes pillows strewn on the ground so you can watch languorously. ‘The Best Dressed Chicken in Manila’ runs for over an hour. “When I started working in art, most artists would make paintings, photographs, installations or performances, because the digital medium might not sell. Now, there’s a much more ease of use. It’s a natural language to most audiences.”

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