July 13, 2012

e-flux Bidding for .art Domain

Per Art Fag City,

Should e-flux win this Top Level Domain bid, they not only promise a company that will be run under the supervision of a committee of experts comprising . . . art historians, artists and curators, but pledge to return 10% of revenues generated by the service in the form of grants and funding for underfunded art institutions, organizations, and projects.

That’s a big deal. e-flux is asking that we all show our support by leaving a recommendationon ICANN’s site, and I recommend readers do this. . . . Many others seem to think the same . . . .

That’s a good sign, because some of .art applicants make me very nervous. From a list of 10 applicants, Aremi Group S.A., a company located in Luxembourg, has already applied for .ART and DOT ART trademarks within the European Union. They have also set up a website that gives the impression they already manage the domain. .Art Registry, Inc., another contender, is an anonymous company registered in the Cayman Islands. Merchant Law Group LLP is a law firm that says it’s “able to respond to the needs of individuals and large corporations alike by focusing creativity, lateral thinking, and finding solutions.” It’s unclear what their experience in art or managing domains is, beyond having the $185,000 application fee.

As e-flux founder Anton Vidokle explained in a comment,

[W]e are not planning to curate the art domain, should we get to develop it. Not sure why people assume we would do that. What is important is not to sell name space indiscriminately only to maximize profits, and to prevent speculators from registering names that belong to other organizations and individuals. Applications for name spaces will indeed be reviewed, primarily to make sure that only Paddy Johnson will be able to register PaddyJohnson.art or only the Brooklyn Museum can get BrooklynMuseum.art. People who work at e-flux are artists and writers . . . . We are not politicians or businessmen, and do not employ deceptive logic. Its very important that there is some solidarity in the artistic community, and that we trust our fellow practitioners. If we can’t manage that, our community will always be prey to the rich and powerful of this world, who will just continue milking it for money, creativity, gentrification, social prestige or whatever it is they want to get from artists. Lastly, the gold rush is not guaranteed: most domains other than .com have failed to earn much money. However if the art domain becomes popular, this could create a significant source of independent funding for art at a time when such resources are rapidly disappearing world wide. We will do our best to realize this.
(Image adapted from ICANN; click on it for a more legible version.)

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