Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer variety of contemporary art production? Personally, this is something we have never felt comfortable with, particularly the fact that great art is almost always discovered by accident.
This is why we started structuring the mass of information available on art production today. The first thing we created was the widely appreciated online art guide, Artfacts.Net$trade; where we arranged tens of thousands of artists, exhibitions and institutions into a comprehensive and easy to use online tool.
In spite of its success, we were not completely satisfied with the system of listing artists alphabetically. We were sure that there were other, even more effective, ways to order artists and their exhibitions. We asked ourselves if it would be possible to predict an artist's career using econometrical methods. From then on there was no stopping us.
We became absorbed with the idea of ordering artists, exhibitions and venues differently, other than the simple alphabetical form. Over the months our thoughts ripened, culminating in weeks spent programming the first version of the Artist Ranking. The Artist Ranking orders artists in an ordinal scaling according to their recognition in the eyes of professionals (i.e. curators, gallery owners).
The aim of the Artist.Ranking (A.R) system is to arrange artists by their exhibition history. The A.R evaluates exhibitions held on an international level over the last five years.
The basis of the A.R thinking is the so-called economy of attention (after a book from Georg Franck). Franck says that attention (fame) in the cultural world is an economy that works with the same mechanisms as capitalism.
Capitalist, or economic, behaviour is based on property, lending money and charging interest. For Franck, the curator (e.g. the museum director or the gallery owner) acts as a financial investor. The curator/investor lends their property (their exhibition space and their fame) to an artist from whom they expect a return on their investment in the form of more attention (reputation, fame etc).
Therefore, the relationship between gallery owner and artist relates to that between investor and entrepreneur. The investor puts his money into companies from which he expects to gain rewards. This is always a mixed batch, where a few succeed and pay for the misinvestment in the others.
With the above stated theory in mind, the A.R system aims to rank only the artists who are rank-worthy. This does not mean that any artist who is not in the ranking or is not highly ranked is a bad artist. It simply means that in comparison to other artists they do not have as much exhibition activity.
The A.R does not judge the work of a specific artist, it orders artists by the professional attention invested in them. It provides the wider audience with a feeling for where a particular artist stands in the eyes of the professionals and is also disconnected from the artist's economic success. Artfacts.Net™ assumes that there might be a correlation between fame and money but this is not the main aim of the A.R.
A.R places great importance on the international representation of artists. Only artists operating in international structures will be chosen as a primary value source. The reason why A.R does this is because it recognises the worth of mutual knowledge. Only artists who are common to diverse societies, countries and/or cultures will be really important and therefore create a kind of brand or universal value (like a standard). So the A.R uses internationality as a standard for the basic calculations.";
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