The DALMI project will yield previously unavailable information about the economic, cultural and legal forces and factors that drive and influence the art market broadly defined. To accomplish this, the project will:

  1. study clusters of buyers, areas, price series, auction results, clusters of characteristics buyers project in art whether or not intended by the maker, using the consumer theory of Lancaster and the bundled characteristics theory developed by Professors De Marchi and Van Miegroet,
  2. implement vertically integrated study and research projects that use a hybrid combination of new art historical, legal and econometric techniques to study consumer preferences for art and how these interact on a global scale with specific legislative and cultural environments,
  3. conduct advanced research in a systematic manner of the factors that affect price, choice, legislation, consumer preference and use the result of these findings through economic theory regarding the role of irrationality in purchasing and investment decisions.

The online display and eventual sale of art is proceeding at an accelerating pace.  Some fear that this will eventually mean the demise of the art expert, especially in the form of art dealers and art advisors, and the end of the art fair. Upon examination it emerges that the exact opposite is more likely to be the case. This said, it is clear that recent developments in the art world are hugely impacting the process of knowledge construction in the arts, and the valorization process in the art market. For instance, the Art Genome Project and the Google Art Project rely on a characteristics—approach to establish linkages and similarities between artworks and schools. But serious questions arise relating to which criteria are used to select the artists and artworks that are put in the database in the first place, and how they are coded. These and comparable initiatives ultimately construct rubrics of criteria that are used to determine what constitutes good art, both in terms of economics (a good investment) and from an artistic point of view (artistic value). In addition, advancements in neurosciences and digital imaging techniques allow art expertise to be objectivised.

While new media and significant technical advances have infused the art world with online marketing and art education strategies, how knowledge on art value is shaped in the digital environment remains under-investigated. This workshop brings together scholars from several disciplines to discuss:

(a) the impact of the Internet in shaping decisions on art value and whether the traditional role of experts and the public as amateurs, has been reconstituted through new media;
(b) the extent to which art authentication techniques and brain imaging are enabling art expertise to become objective;
(c) how art information and knowledge is shaped and signaled in the marketplace;  and
(d) the process of the coding and the digitization of art information in museums.

The project will engage teams of undergraduate and graduate students from the humanities and the social sciences conversant with Art, Law & Economics as well as graduates who hold the Juris Doctorate/Masters of Art in Art History, Law and Economics; and Ph.D. candidates in Art History and Visual Studies.  Additionally, undergraduate and graduate students in Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science, as well as Art & Markets seminar honor students, will partially code and expand the already existing DALMI database. This database will provide researchers, legal professionals, art and economic scholars, as well as private and public buyers, hedge funds, governments, museums and others, reliable data concerning an important aspect of the global cultural heritage.  Furthermore, the database is a powerful teaching and research tool to provide reliable information on market trends as expressed through measurable bundled characteristics and pricing, among others.

In addition to the Duke undergraduate and graduate student community, the primary audiences the DALMI project are the international scholarly networks in Art History, Economics, Law and Markets scholars, the international legal community who are interested in such topics as cultural and intellectual property law, copyright, Art & Markets law; the international business community with interests in finance, investment, hedge funds, as well as individual and institutional buyers such as private buyers, museums, universities, and governments. The primary vehicle to distribute the results of new research in Art, Law & Markets is the DALMI e-journal. Develop an experimental and modular multimedia course program entitled, tentatively entitled Economics of Art. The technical part of the course that needs further development is web-based and will focus on art as an investment. It uses some of the concepts and statistical data from the J. Paul Getty Provenance Index Database and the Duke DALMI Database, which will be further developed as part of the project. It is our intention to add the web-based, modular course component to the Duke undergraduate and graduate curriculum.

2) Design a team project that studies the driving factors for the irrational premium paid for the more significant works of art by period, geographical area and clusters of buyers. This is an overarching research project and an extension of already existing Art & Markets research of De Marchi and Van Miegroet. The partial and sequential results will be assessed each semester and published in the Duke DALMI e-journal, which will be developed. A central focus of the project will be the role of irrationality in purchasing art and related investment decisions.

3) Design a legal research project to identify artworks and imagery that are free of copyright protection, which allows free use of their related imagery and artistic concepts, establish rules to track such artworks going forward, and analyze relative long-term economic benefits to the artists, their heirs and financial supporters from adopting copyright-free status for their artworks.

4) Organize Art, Law & Markets Workshops involving both Duke undergraduate and graduate students, as well as members of the international network.

5) Most experimental part of the project is the research and development of Master Collector: an Art Market Simulation Game, a web-based network that allows users to form virtual art collections according to rules that are consistent with some of the dynamics of the real world art market. In its early stages the network may involve minimal rules of play that will serve to create incentives for users, who may not be inclined to amass a virtual collection merely for the sake of doing so. The development of this network will provide an opportunity for collaboration between scholars in the humanities and the hard sciences. Once the network is activated, the collecting behaviors exhibited by its users will provide an invaluable data set on topics such as the preferences of virtual art collectors, the evolution of collecting practices over time, strategies of acquisition and trade and the popularity of artworks within a given set. Data on topics like these will be a useful resource for scholars in such fields as Art History, History, Law, Sociology, Economics and Museum Studies. Timeframe: ongoing, start 1 January 2012.

The DALMI research project will yield both public and proprietary data and information. The publicly available information will be accessible via an interactive website and the publicly accessible e-journal which will be developed.  These will be housed on the Duke / VSI computer servers.
Specific deliverables will be as follows:

1) A modular multimedia course program entitled Economics of Art, using some of the concepts and statistical data from the J. Paul Getty Provenance Index Database. This course program will strengthen the already existing the Duke undergraduate and graduate curriculum in Art, Law & Markets, Duke distance learning projects as well as integrated in ongoing university-wide teaching experiments with immersive modular courses.

2) Duke DALMI e-journal developed by and for students.

3) Art, Law & Markets Workshops involving both Duke undergraduate and graduate students, as well as members of the international network

4) Expand the DALMI relational database and strengthen the already existing formal partnership between DALMI and the J. Paul Getty Provenance Index Database. Both will be further developed by a team of vertically integrated undergraduate and graduate students as part of the project.

5) Start R&D of a new digital Master Collector: an Art Market Simulation Game with student teams, including students from Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science. The vision is to allow participants from all over the world to visualize peer-group paintings at once. The Master Collector: an Art Market Simulation Game is a web-based application that allows users to form virtual art collections according to rules that are consistent with some of the dynamics of the real world art market.
These DALMI projects will lay the groundwork for new fundamental teaching and research on the interface of Art, Law and Economics putting Duke students and scholars at the cutting edge of this new, hybrid field. DALMI will provide the infrastructure in and outside the classroom to develop new modular courses, seminars and workshops in Art, Law and Economics, and introduce innovative technologies such as the Master Collector: an Art Market Simulation Game. The published outcomes of this project will create more transparency in international art markets and allow for more fiscally responsible investment strategies and cultural policies. They also have the potential to affect copyright, cultural and intellectual property law theory and practice.

These research objectives will form the academic foundation for:

  1. vertically integrated, modular course cycles;
  2. development of the student-administered Duke DALMI e-journal;
  3. workshops in Art, Law & Markets for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as expert international visitors;
  4. the development of a fully operational database of auction sales results with the J. Paul Getty Provenance Index;
  5. research and development of the Master Collector: an Art Market Simulation Game, a web-based network that allows users to form virtual art collections and expand already existing vertically integrated cross-departmental teaching and research projects to analyze legal issues, market factors and premiums related to art in various periods.
  6. Develop the “Visualizing Art, Law and Markets” database analytics and visualization project in partnership with Duke’s Visualization Technology Group, and through a grant-funded initiative with North Carolina’s Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI).

This project applies information visualization techniques to the study of emerging art markets and seeks to create a collaborative infrastructure for analyzing market flows in early modern Europe using a variety of media incorporated into a database-driven, dynamic visualization tool. The tool developed will visualize influence networks and geographic market maps in order to understand how art markets emerged and grew. The project goal is to create a scalable set of methods and techniques for research and presentation.

This is an excellent and timely opportunity for Duke to expand innovative teaching and research in an emerging academic field (Art, Law & Markets) in which the University has expertise and seeks to develop distinct leadership.

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