Art is My Do­main

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - STYLE - By NATACHA RIVA

Elena Chinyaeva is the chief ad­viser to .art — which over­sees the new in­ter­net do­main ex­ten­sion — on busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions. She ex­plains the im­pe­tus be­hind the launch of .art and the grow­ing pres­ence of art-fo­cused web­sites What ex­actly is .art?

It’s the art world’s exclusive web do­main. In ad­di­tion to .com, .org, .gov and about 20 other older do­main zones, the in­ter­net of to­day has many more new generic top-level do­main zones (gTLDs) and .art is one of them. Since the on­set, the vi­sion of .art has been to cre­ate an on­line ecosys­tem for art, where ev­ery­one from es­tab­lished art or­ga­ni­za­tions to emerg­ing artists can iden­tify them­selves as mem­bers of the art com­mu­nity, and con­nect with like-minded in­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions from the art world. .Art was not de­signed to serve an elite com­mu­nity but ev­ery­one, from in­sti­tu­tions and artists to com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als from fields as broad as art, de­sign, luxury, tech, ed­u­ca­tion, health, sports and en­ter­tain­ment.

So why start .art now?

.Art launched in early De­cem­ber last year, but the prepa­ra­tions started five years ago. Back in early 2012, ICANN (the in­ter­net Cor­po­ra­tion for As­signed Names and Num­bers) — the con­trol­ling body of the in­ter­net — an­nounced its new gTLDs pro­gram, which was an ini­tia­tive to ex­pand the ex­ist­ing sys­tem of web ex­ten­sions to give users more choice in ac­quir­ing their in­ter­net iden­ti­ties. There were 10 ap­pli­ca­tions for .art — which makes it one of the most con­tested do­main zones ever, as the name is both short and clear in mean­ing. When it comes to do­main name sys­tems (DNS), the shorter and clearer, the more valu­able. The pop­u­lar­ity of .art has also re­flected the fast growth of a rel­a­tively new seg­ment of the art mar­ket — art on­line. A few years ago, it was a nov­elty for a gallery or an artist to have an on­line pres­ence, but now it’s a must.

Where does .art stop and .biz or .com start?

As the founder of .art, ven­ture investor Ulvi Kasi­mov likes to say: “In the dig­i­tal era, we have a dig­i­tal dress code.” Dif­fer­ent dig­i­tal iden­ti­ties serve dif­fer­ent pur­poses — any­one can have sev­eral. If you’re com­mer­cial, you might try to se­cure a pres­ence on .com or .biz; if you’re cre­ative, you may opt for .art.

How did you ac­quire the right to ad­min­is­ter the .art do­main?

The new gTLDs pro­gram in 2012 al­lowed any­one to ap­ply for any num­ber of do­main names, pro­vided they com­plied with cer­tain rules and paid the nec­es­sary fees. We ap­plied for one name only — .art — and found our­selves in the com­pany of nine other pow­er­ful com­peti­tors. The con­tention was then re­solved

through a pri­vate auc­tion in July 2015, which we won. Then there was a com­pli­ance pro­ce­dure; fi­nally in 2016, we signed a con­tract with ICANN for op­er­at­ing an .art registry. Since then, some of our for­mer com­peti­tors have be­come our part­ners, like the New York-based me­dia plat­form e-Flux, which has helped .art at­tract art pro­fes­sion­als from around the world by us­ing its strong data­base of con­tacts.

How can you de­ter­mine what gets .art sta­tus and what doesn’t? For ex­am­ple, watch­maker Rolex and fash­ion house Chanel both have art cre­den­tials, but nei­ther is specif­i­cally rec­og­nized as an art­world player.

Reg­is­trants are buy­ing .art names for dif­fer­ent pur­poses. At the very least, one can pro­tect its brand or per­sonal name, so that oth­ers can’t claim it for spec­u­la­tion or abuse. Google, Ap­ple, What­sApp, AXA, Bank of Amer­ica Mer­rill Lynch and other high-tech and fi­nan­cial giants mostly bought their .art names for pro­tec­tion pur­poses — often sev­eral, for each of their branded prod­ucts as well.

Other well-es­tab­lished com­mer­cial en­ti­ties — luxury brands among them — are aim­ing to use their .art sites in par­al­lel with their ex­ist­ing plat­forms to show their cre­ative per­son­al­i­ties or to host spe­cial projects. For in­stance, the Fon­da­tion Cartier plans to dis­play a new col­lec­tion, Ab­so­lut (Vodka) is look­ing to present its long-term his­tory of art en­gage­ments and the Bol­shoi The­atre plans to up­load its video ar­chive.

How did you de­ter­mine the pric­ing for .art do­main names, given that they’re con­sid­er­ably more ex­pen­sive — about 10 times more — than pre-ex­ist­ing do­main names?

The names sold on .art fall into two cat­e­gories: per­sonal iden­ti­ties (the names of in­di­vid­u­als or or­ga­ni­za­tions) and generic words and word forms. The first-cat­e­gory names are stan­dard and will re­main so. Dur­ing the ini­tial pre­ferred ac­cess pe­riod from Feb 7 to May 10, they were sold at US$299 — the price that al­lowed .art to drive away name spec­u­la­tors while at­tract­ing the core, well-es­tab­lished art-re­lated ac­tors.

From then on, when the gen­eral ac­cess pe­riod started, the price for stan­dard per­sonal-iden­tity names went down to the re­tail price of US$15 to $20, al­low­ing ev­ery­one to ac­quire their per­sonal iden­ti­ties on .art. So, per­sonal iden­ti­ties — what the ma­jor­ity of reg­is­trants pur­chase at .art — have be­come even more af­ford­able than be­fore.

What’s your fa­vorite art?

The type of art that res­onates with me has cer­tain sym­bolic, con­cep­tu­al­ist ways of deal­ing with form and color. But I also find the seem­ingly flat paint­ings of the early Re­nais­sance and the ab­strac­tions of ear­ly20th-cen­tury mod­ernism equally ap­peal­ing and mes­mer­iz­ing, as well as Rus­sian avant-garde. Of the later pe­ri­ods, the work of Jack­son Pollock is highly fas­ci­nat­ing to me.

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