Galleries - February 2010

sophisticated system of world wide computingpower to hold every- thing“as secure as your bank”. Of course there will be doubters. There will also be those who don't want to cough up the fee to join ($320 per annum for artists, paid quarterly). There will be those who know that the continual effort and discipline involved is not for them. There will be those who habitually rework pieces and whose initial entries would soon be inaccurate. (Blue- Label's way round this is to make new labels for the reworked piece, linked to the original label so that both or all appear when a search is made.) And what about the fun of the chase: if information is so easily accessible and so accurate, how will researchers get their thrills? Others may give it a try and fall by the wayside. And some will find it a godsend. Perhaps the world really does divide into those who thrive on a muddle and those who want to iron out the wrinkles. I turned for an opinion to one of that tribe of ironers, a lawyer. She listened carefully, took out a pen and scribbled the following: “Having a work on the database can be con- clusive evidence that it is the artist's. Not havingit on the database is NOT conclusive evid- ence of it not beingthe artist's (he might not have put it on).” In plain English, BlueLabel can be used positively but not negatively. And for that alone I wish it well. For information circumstances at the behest of the artist, such changes being effec- ted by BlueLabel administrators. Artists are able to add 'dynamic' information – notes, extra photo- graphs, video and audio as often as they please into a 'P2' section, and this subsidiary information can be changed or deleted at any time by the artist. All information is viewable by other subscribers. A similar arrangement has been devised for those managing art- ists' estates (the Purple Label group), and sections for collec- tors, auction houses, dealers and museums are under construction. There is also a private section ( White Label ) viewable only by the individual, which can be used for confidential activities or for ex- changes between subscribers, such as collectors consigning work to auction. If it seems over- optimistic, just think what the world wide web sounded like when first mooted. BlueLabel sells itself under three banners: liberation, efficiency and security. They are very persuasive. A digital catalogue raisonné of one's works would be a dream not just for the artist, his heirs and executors, but also for research- ers and collectors. How excellent not to have to rely on out-of-date spreadsheets that risk not making a readable jump to new tech- nology. How sensible to have a filingcabinet in the sky for ima- ges, press releases, catalogues and reviews. How safe to have it all in someone else's hands, but with guaranteed access and a LIBERATION, EFFICIENCY & SECURITY . . . Sarah Drury visits an online archive nuts & bolts BlueLabel's website opens with a short animation that follows a painting on its journey from artist's studio to eventual owner, via a number of art world types. In the process the title, artist's name and date of creation undergo slight modifications, as in the game of Chinese Whispers. It gives amu- sing weight to the idea behind BlueLabel, that “In the art world information is often misinform- ation”. War hasn't exactly been declared on the haphazard nature of making and recording art, but BlueLabel intends to provide a weapon which those of tidy mind and regular ways can wield. It will inevitably appeal to some and be anathema to others. The origin of the idea of having an artist-driven subscription-based database in cyberspace lies in a long spell of pondering on issues of identity. With commercial art world experience, the founders believe the key to sorting out the mess and mass of information (exacerbated by the internet) is to give the creators themselves the ability to document and provide their works with the equivalent of birth certificates. By becoming a member of the Blue Label group, artists take on the responsibility for registering and describing their art. Certain information is classed as 'P1' such as Title, Date and Materials, and when this has been entered and an image uploaded, the record is locked and a unique serial number randomly gener- ated. This information cannot be altered, except under exceptional 12. GALLERIES FEBRUARY 10