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Three years ago we did a quick blog writeup referring to Bandai’s Digital Living Gallery, a digital frame that was designed to look more classy than techy, and support an ecosystem of digital art that would be sold as physical media. You could buy the Renoir or Monet collections, and enjoy art in a new way. We thought it was brilliant in concept, though not perhaps in execution. After all, you can buy just about anything through iTunes, but there’s no clear way to buy digital art. This is obviously possible through apps, but most of all it’s difficult because people don’t dedicate a single HD screen to digital art rather than other forms of media.
A new concept from artist and designer Yugo Nakamura from tha ltd. called FRAMED has finally been released, and they’ve merged both the hardware and the artistic marketplace with an app that allows smooth interactions with a new medium. This week we went to their new showroom in Omotesando to take a look, play with the system, and drool a little bit. It’s also been covered by Honeyee and CBC NET to name a couple of outlets.
It’s hard to say whether the specs of the frame or the contents are more important, but we’d argue that it’s the latter’s marketplace that has the best potential to create a thriving digital art culture. Still, the device itself is beautiful. Developed along with Samsung, the 55 inch vertical LED display contains a PC with Wi-Fi as well as a visually undetectable embedded camera and microphone for additional interaction. The front, back, and edges are clear and straight, and there isn’t a single in/out port to be found. That’s where the content marketplace comes in, all done wirelessly.
FRAMED comes with some preinstalled works, but their goal is to create both a platform and means for inspiring artists to create and sell their digital art. These include works by Yugo Nakamura such as his famous DROPCLOCK. At first the works will be curated by FRAMED, but eventually it will open up more to all artists to participate and sell.
The art is browsed, purchased, and selected for display all through the FRAMED app, which is available for free on iTunes. There is also the possibility to interact with certain works, such as changing colors, manipulating shapes, or anything else envisioned by the creator.
We absolutely love the concept, but it doesn’t come cheap. To get the FRAMED display will cost about 1.2 million yen, which is just over $14k, and the art itself can go for $300 depending on the piece. While the display is pricey, we wouldn’t say that $300 would be too unreasonable for the content, especially if we were able to get a copy of team Lab’s 100 Year Sea.
There are currently no plans to bring FRAMED to international markets, but we would agree that there’s definitely a space for digital art that has no yet been filled, and will require something beyond iPads and standard LED displays to do. Even Apple TV has the potential to sell art, but that’s different from having a display dedicated to it and mounted on the wall with style. In this regard FRAMED is a step in an interesting direction for both art and commerce in the digital world.