We are writing to inform you about a new development that will have a serious impact for art practitioners, institutions of art, and art publics world wide.
The structure of the internet is about to shift in such a way that most information pertaining to food will be found in a .food domain, while most information on cars will likely be found in a .car domain, and so forth. While at the moment this may appear to be a small technical modification, it may have very significant consequences in the long run. For many people, the internet has already become a major educational tool. And while the internet is the first place we look to when we seek to learn something, it also has a capacity that goes beyond this: as millions of people around the world use the internet to find answers to questions about art, the results they get will, over time, shape their conception of art.
The authority that controls the internet by managing the database of addresses of every website and webpage (ICANN), has accepted applications and announced the list of companies who have applied to open and manage new top-level domain names—what comes after the dot in the web address: .com, .org, .uk and so forth. The application process is now closed; nearly 2000 applications were submitted and more than 500 new internet domains will be approved within a year, ranging from .baby to .berlin and .art.
A full list of new domains that will come into existence in a few months can be viewed here.
It is incredibly important for all of us that the Art domain on the internet be developed by a knowledgeable and responsible party, and in a focused and accessible way. e-flux has applied for the rights to develop and administer the .art domain, with the hopes of maintaining and distributing such a domain in a way that emphasizes the quality, content, and educational and ethical values of the art community—something we have been able to achieve with the e-flux announcement service for over a decade. Should we get the rights to develop the Art domain, an advisory board of artists, art historians, and curators will be formed to oversee the policies of this important resource. We have also pledged to return a significant part of the income produced by this service back to the art community, in the form of grants and funding for art institutions and projects in places where art funding is insufficient or entirely lacking.
Beginning in 1999 as an informal mailing list, e-flux is an artist-run organization that has grown tremendously over the past ten years, largely due to your involvement. In 2008 we were able to start a free monthly journal whose readership now extends to many parts of the world. We have published books and realized many projects, exhibitions, lectures, and seminars, all of which were made available to audiences internationally. Most importantly, we have been able to develop and maintain a truly independent resource for information on contemporary art that is trusted, highly regarded, and accessible to readers for free. We envision the Art domain as an important resource for art professionals, educators, institutions, and especially the public at large.
e-flux is the only applicant from the art community and we feel that it’s extremely important that the Art domain be managed from within our community. The process of evaluating our application has started and we are up against corporate investors and commercial interests, some of whom have many millions to spend, and who have secured high power law firms, etc.
For those of you who would like to learn more about e-flux’s plans and commitment to the art community as it regards to .ART TLD, please review our application here.
We need your support to keep the domain of Art in the community of people who make, study, present, and love art. ICANN is now accepting public comments, which can be made via this link. The comments will be considered by independent evaluators and will make a difference, and your endorsement would be deeply appreciated.
A draft endorsement comment could look like this:
Our organization/individual practitioner, (insert name), is an active member of the art community since (insert date / year). Our activities consist of (briefly describe your organization or your professional activity), as can be seen on our website (insert URL).
We fully support and endorse e-flux’s application for the .ART TLD, and share their forward-looking vision for this innovative name space.
(insert name of representative)
(insert name of individual/ company / organization)