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According to the Art Dealer’s Association of America (Ref. 1), the key issues behind determining the price of artworks include:-
We will assume that the first three variables are not going to change over time. What will change over the lifetime of the artwork is the provenance and the condition.
Works in poor condition are ones which have suffered damage, with the major cause being poor handling in transit (Ref. 5). Insurers cover this risk of course and also cover fire, theft and flood but do not cover gradual damage resulting from changes in temperature, humidity or light, since it cannot be determined when the damage began (Ref. 6,7). The risk of gradual damage therefore needs to be mitigated.
Before deciding on a mitigation strategy, an assessment of the condition of the artwork is carried out by an expert in the field through a condition report, which is used by dealers, auction houses and insurers to establish the damage on the object at a specific point in time and at one location (Ref. 8).
So, what happens when parameters such as incident sunlight change drastically over the course of a year? Carrying out condition reports for an entire collection every 6-12 months becomes time-consuming and expensive.
The trouble is: environmental monitoring solutions for artworks currently do not interpret the sensorial information measured within the context of the sensitivity of the object. E.g. A light level of 400 Lux on a stone sculpture is not a problem, whereas that same level on a silk garment would be disastrous. Also, the condition of the artwork is not continuously traced back to the requirements stipulated in the latest condition report and it is not traced forward to the expected price the object could fetch on the market (to determine if the market value is being preserved adequately).
ArtRatio vitrines collect real-time environmental data in-situ but also request from the owner an estimate of the sensitivity of the object. This allows the ArtRatio system to automatically reduce the light exposure on the object if the vitrine deems the work to be too sensitive for the current light conditions. Reduced light exposure reduces the energy entering the vitrine, reducing fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity and maintaining the electrical conductivity of the air inside the vitrine within bounds. This reduces the risk of electrostatic charge build-up on the insulative surfaces of the vitrine, avoiding ‘lift-off’ of friable media such as charcoal and graphite.
ArtRatio is currently working to improve the traceability between the following art world data: the initial state of the artwork (imported from the condition report) real-time environmental monitoring data, such as temperature, humidity and light the sensitivity of the work to changes in these environmental parameters up-to-date estimated market price of the work (imported from existing databases) This allows us to correlate over time how art market prices vary with condition.
Other ArtTech companies have established technologies to certify provenance by issuing digital certificates that guarantee the authenticity of the work. Artratio is currently developing collaborations to bring together certified provenance data with ArtRatio’s certified condition data, giving the end-customer more complete traceability.
The current maturity level of data traceability across the art world is poor. A lot of data sits in silos, resulting in a broken value chain for the end customer. ArtRatio’s value proposition patches together these disparate data silos into one coherent real-time value chain. We achieve this by converting the raw art condition data into:
This hard data, along with provenance data from 3rd party sources, may be correlated over time to match trends in the price fetched by the work at auction or by private sale.
The Internet-of-Things (IoT) applied to the art world involves embedding microcontrollers into the direct vicinity of the artwork (i.e. its associated vitrine), allowing 24/7 connectivity of the object to auction sales data, discoveries of lost works by the same author and also geopolitical events, allowing for the following use cases:-
There is an enormous opportunity for Art+Tech companies to improve the traceability between the various ‘data silos’ that exist currently in the art world. This would result in benefits to the object, it’s owner and to the transparency of the art market itself.
1. http://artdealers.org/ sites/default/files/adaa_guide.pdf
2. http://www.tate.org.uk/ art/art-terms/a/authenticity
3. https://news.artnet.com/ market/the-importance-of-provenance-in-determining-authenticity-29953
5. http://xlcatlin.com/~/media/uki-fact-sheets/ xl_catlin_fas_intro_to_fineart_br_final.pdf
6. http://www.appraisingart.com/ Information/InsuringYourArt.html
7. https://www2.chubb.com/sg-en/ articles/collecting-art-art-insurance.aspx