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Digital pleasures

The pleasures of the flesh are becoming fewer and fewer. At the beginning of the pandemic, and fearing an escalation of the dollar and the imminent closure of bookstores, I bought a Kindle. A text storage device that also serves a millennial and carnal craft: reading. Although its attributes such as portability, weight, price and access to certain titles are undeniable, the loss of the physical experience is painful. The smell of the new book vanishes, the dance of the pages between the fingers disappears and, above all, the cult of the object that is the book, its physical presence, is completely annulled. I don't know the first person who boasts about his digital library or who makes it the center of conversation in his life. In that sense, also some of its social characterization is undermined. Nevertheless, it is a successful and rising technology, which I predict will by no means signal the end of the physical book. Or at least I hope not. Hopefully not.

In the same way, it took me a few months to understand the concept of digital art (so famous these days for the sale of a work of this category for more than 40 million dollars). And it was hard for me to assume as a premise of the artistic experience (and its adjacent market) the cult of the physical object. That millenary fetish, a close relative of religious worship, that turns a piece of cloth or a weathered stone into an artifact more expensive than a private jet. However, such physical and tangible condition was not, is not, and will not be enough. It is always necessary to contemplate that for the work to become transcendental (elevate?) it must have the presence of at least two intangible and, in principle, imperceptible factors: reputation and delight. I arrived late, but I arrived.

For this reason it can be concluded that some people buy with their ears and not with their eyes. Undoubtedly, art is a market of rumors and reputations. I recently proved it. I uploaded to social media a photograph of a blank piece of paper (the work in eve) announcing an upcoming release of a serialized silkscreen by a celebrated urban artist. Surprisingly, I received three bids for a work that did not yet exist. A certain public will be willing to disregard the object itself and prefer the rumor. And in this way, they will be more interested in the reputation of the artist himself, his trajectory and previous evidence than even the precise materiality of his creation. An unusual but valuable act of trust. The oil of an entire multi-million dollar industry: art.

However, to understand with integrity the phenomenon of digital art, it is also necessary to stop before the sensorial and spiritual component that traditionally causes the "true" artistic work. Delight, as Aristotle baptized it, is fundamental to the pleasurable experience of the public and is undoubtedly what provokes (and evokes) their attention and interest. The improbable attraction before the image, the gesture or the word. Pleasure is what causes the appetite. That passion for acquiring and appropriating art and seeing it consumed in the jaws of selfishness and greed. It is enough to review the pages of the main galleries of the world to see that this carnal pleasure has been translated with enormous success to digital scenarios. Part of the art market has moved into the business of the perceptible but untouchable. The traditional warning of "See and Do Not Touch", seems to be the announcement of what is to come.

Nowadays there is no more suitable medium for human pleasure than the screen. That infinite mirror in which secrets, pride and envy are enclosed also serves as the ideal stage and platform for the artistic work. And although the object of art has mutated, the millenary rules seem to remain the same: reputation and delight. If my words do not convince my readers, I ask them the question that an expert in digital realities asked me a few weeks ago: how many times a day do you look at the screen of your cell phone?

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