3 Jun



Ten groups currently have applications in for ownership of the new .art top level domain, i.e. the thing that comes after the so-called “dot” in web addresses. I’m sure it will amaze you to learn that eight of the ten applicants seem to be in it purely for the money and probably don’t give a shit about art. The name of “UK Creative Ideas Ltd” is enough to cause a shudder on its own, let alone the fact that they are a “company created specifically to apply for .art“. Another applicant is a Canadian hedge fund. Luxembourg’s Aremi Group has pre-emptively claimed that “dotart” and “.art” are their trademarks, which SEEMS LEGIT and not at all shady. Top Level Domain Holdings is a TLD leviathan apparently dedicated to sucking up everything it can cram into its gaping maw, including such potentially lucrative new TLDs as .art, .beer, .gay, .tech, .vodka and, er… .zulu. Coincidentally– with the possible although not inevitable exception of .zulu– these domain names also describe my ideal weekend.

Two community-focused entities composed of actual human beings with functioning moral frameworks did manage to squeak through into the final ten, though: e-flux and deviantART. Although I make fun of the completely ridiculous mailings that sometimes come out via e-flux, with regard to .art their rationale and motivations seem to be admirable. In this open letter they commit to an artist and curator-led advisory board who will manage the domain on a peer review basis. They also promise to return its profits to the arts community in the form of project and institutional funding. This would be an excellent, progressive and responsible use of the domain’s income, so of course it will never happen.

The other applicant, deviantART, is more passionate than its typically dry and slightly pompous e-flux counterpart but convincingly sets out a similar position. I particularly like this:

“…left to pure commercial exploitation, .ART will stand as a complete failure. It will only occasionally and haphazardly designate the arts themselves. It will not be a welcomed location for the arts. The impact of the worldwide abuse of a beloved term through disjointed, disorganized, and random designations – – completely irrelevant to its meaning and associations – – would be an irretrievable tragedy.”

It goes right to the core of the matter. If, as is highly likely, a nakedly commercial entity gets hold of .art then it will probably be rendered useless almost immediately. You’ll see the .art domain and the first things that come to mind won’t be art and artists. Your first thoughts will be of scammers, spammers, amateurs and advertisers. No serious artist, collection, museum or gallery will choose to (or dare to) use it. As with e-flux, deviantART seeming to have good intentions and explictly rejecting unadulterated exploitation will probably be fatal to their hopes of gaining the .art domain.

The deviantART letter also wisely recognises that they and e-flux are coming from a similar place on this issue, despite their obvious differences and the large degree of mutual, inherent antipathy between their two stakeholder communities. Frankly, though, I’d rather .art was run by a bunch of people who are into scantily clad manga girls, robots, “amusing” Doctor Who cartoons, baffling comics, “fandoms” (urgh) and paintings of werewolves than see it controlled by a hedge fund, a trademark troll or a gigantic domain-harvester.


One Response to “.ART”

  1. Sarah Hoskins 03/06/2014 at 5:33 PM #

    We are all doomed.

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