Digital Platform RAM+
Rockbund Art Museum (RAM), Shanghai, is delighted to launch its brand-new digital platform RAM+.
Over the past ten years, Rockbund Art Museum has promoted contemporary art practices with a focus on Asia, committed to going beyond the fixed definition of an exhibition, and looked to expand the dialogue with artists by gathering of critical thinkers and practitioners from other social and cultural fields. RAM+ is an extension from the museum’s physical space into the digital world — bringing unique expertise in art and a commitment to sustainable values by supporting selected artists to engage with the possibilities of digital art, and activating a curatorial approach to emerging digital ecology. Accelerated within the pandemic context, the association of digital art with NFT art offers new parameters in the digital art field. Beyond the art market and cryptocurrency community, how can an institution support the artistic creation of digital and NFT artists? RAM+ will initiate projects such as symposiums, commissions, virtual exhibitions and performative events, online publications, research and collective learning programs to embrace this new landscape and to foresee the transformative changes in contemporary art.
1．Rockbund Art Museum chose to cooperate with artist Cai Guo-Qiang this time as the first artist presented on the museum's new digital platform RAM+, can you share with us why Cai Guo-Qiang is the best fit?
Larys Frogier: RAM opened its physical space in 2010 in Shanghai with the major acclaimed artist Cai Guo-Qiang. The artist then conceived “Peasant Da Vincis” a unique art project by inviting farmers from different locations in China, to exhibit their creative handmade, moving, mechanical machines, celebrating humanity and the daily skills of local people.
In 2021, RAM will reopen with a renovated building with new services to audience and a brand new website for developing research and curated projects. Such context is going along with the launch of RAM+ as a brand new digital space starting with Cai Guo-Qiang “Transient Eternity——101 Ignitions of Gunpowder Paintings” artwork. It is very meaningful for RAM+ to have its very first project with Cai Guo-Qiang because he is not labeled as a “digital artists” and to envision with him how diverse can be the engagement of RAM+ into NFT art. Also, Cai Guo- Qiang has always been very close to Rockbund Art Museum and its development. So it has a deep symbolical meaning for us to launch RAM+ with Cai Guo-Qiang by celebrating 10 years of powerful creations, as well as foreseeing a resilient and promising future…
2．Can you tell us about the motivation behind the initiation and implementation of the RAM+ project? Why choose TR lab as a partner? Compare to other NFT platforms, what makes it stand out?
Larys Frogier: In the midst of excitement, turmoil, and often random purely opportunistic, mercantile targets of many NFT art platforms, I just want to raise the following question: who can assess the quality of NFT art ? At the moment, « NFT art » is very blurred since anyone can claim to be an « artist » and can « create » an NFT.
The current quality of « NFT art » is quite random, going from excellent to dubious creations, often generating formatted images and trends that, at the final, look quite similar and serve exclusive commercial purposes. The danger is thus a leveling of art rather than creating the best conditions for an innovative, legal, contrasted and creative extension of art practices. The danger is thus the leveling and flattening of art rather than an innovative, contrasted and creative extension of art practices.
The association of digital art & NFT art is new. The engagement of RAM+ will help shaping expertise and assessment to consolidate existing and new institutional guidelines for developing digital and NFT art. NFT art can be understood as secured copyrights for artists and digital money for art collectors. Among many opportunist and quite bad quality of so called “NFT art” platforms, TR Lab is developing a professional network that truly cares about art, connecting in proper ways with and supporting artists as well as art organizations like Rockbund Art Museum. Very different from other NFT art platforms. TR Lab also fully understands and respects the autonomy of the Museum for conceiving and curating art projects, so we keep safe our respective vision and missions.
3．What criteria will be considered while selecting cooperating artists in the future on this platform?
Larys Frogier: Diversity, Contradiction, Criticality, Engagement, Experimentation, Creativity
4．Why is it necessary to found a brand-new digital platform at this moment of time?
Because of decisive mutations in art making and curatorial practices.
Because of urgent needs for artists, curators and museums to develop art projects.
Because of RAM extension from its physical space to its digital horizon.
Because of RAM solid professional reputation in the international art community.
5．What do you think are the main responsibilities of art museums when it comes to Crypto Art and NFT Art, an uncertain “bubble” at the moment? How can art institutions support these artists?
Larys Frogier: NFT allows traditional visual artworks, AI artworks, video, music, text, or anything else that can be digitalized. For example, a social message can also become an NFT. Once an NFT is created, it cannot be reproduced like a simple image or file. It has a similar cachet as an original artwork. Once an NFT is created it can be digitally traced forever.Saying this, until now there is no organization fully controlling and keeping safe the rights of the artists. It means also that anyone can be named as an « artist » and create an NFT, which creates a lot of confusion at the moment. It also means that, behind the curtain of NFT, there is already a dark side of on-going corruption. For example, some artists who have created an NFT have seen their NFT work (re)appropiated and « controlled » by other business companies who have nothing to do with or to care about artists creations and rights. Another example, some artists have seen their NFT work turned by business companies into a « Marble card », another trade token that allows any user to make private business and trade tokens from an NFT work. Different so called « new » or « emerging » « artists » are also involved in such corruption. They appropriate/copy (or change a little bit) the artworks created by other artists many years ago and sell it as « their » NFT. Games and webpage images are often subject to such corruption.
RAM+ and other art organizations can change such context by:
- Creating a new platform dedicated to NFT art
- Researching and identifying real good artists interested in NFT art, local and international, acclaimed and emerging artists.
- Integrating NFT art in its artworks new production and support to artists,
sometimes exhibitions (but should not be all exhibitions)
- Creating an expertise committee gathering curators, artists, researchers etc.
- Being part and acting as a reference for expertise in NFT art for Chinese, Asian or/and international organizations/businesses developing NFT art.