Huffpost Arts

Interview With Aimee Davison, Who Bought A $10,000 Work Of Non-Visible Art

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Last month we told you about James Franco's new art project, the Museum of Non-Visible Art (MONA). People questioned whether the project was an elaborate ruse, as there are no physical works to purchase, only ideas. Prices for the ideas ranged from $1 to $10,000, and despite the criticism the project has received, many have purchased ideas from MONA's kickstarter campaign, including Aimee Davison, who purchased the $10,000 piece entitled "Fresh Air":

By Praxis - Conceptual - Fresh Air -This is a unique piece, only this one is for sale. The air you are purchasing is like buying an endless tank of oxygen. No matter where you are, you always have the ability to take a breath of the most delicious, clean-smelling air that the earth can produce. Every breath you take gives you endless peace and health. This artwork is something to carry with you if you own it. Because wherever you are, you can imagine yourself getting the most beautiful taste of air that is from the mountain tops or fields or from the ocean side; it is an endless supply. Naming Rights- You get an entire wing of the museum named in your honor for this purchase. The owner of this artwork will receive a title card with a description of the piece to be mounted on your wall, and used when explaining the work. You will also get a letter of authentication, and a pdf copy of the catalog! For this category, you will also get invited to the after-party if you are in New York City in November of 2011. Important! You are not buying a visible piece of art; you are buying the title and description card for the imagined artwork.

The price is pretty extravagant, given the piece is essentially for the oxygen which surrounds us all, but if you wanted to purchase it, you're out of luck. "Fresh Air" was bought months ago by Montreal web producer, social media marketer, model and actor Aimee Davison. What would prompt some one to spend $10,000 on a piece of non-visible art? Read our interview with Davison below the slideshow of Davison's work to find out.

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How did you learn about the Museum of Non-Visible Art?

I found out about the Museum of Non-Visible Art from an article on Salon.com.

How, when and why did you decide to buy the most expensive piece of art offered? Why not one of the other, more modestly priced pieces?

On June 13, 2011, within an hour of reading a piece about the project on Salon.com, I decided to make the purchase of "Fresh Air," priced at $10,000.00. As a new media producer, I identified with the ideology of the project and was particularly inspired by the sentence, "We exchange ideas and dreams as currency in the New Economy."

Social media, which is integral to “the New Economy” of the Internet, post Web 2.0, has revolutionized how artists create, promote and sell their works of art. I felt that the act of purchasing “Fresh Air” supported my thesis about a concept I term “you-commerce,“ which is the marketing and monetization of one’s persona, skills, and products via the use of social media and self-broadcasting platforms, like Franco’s use of the crowd funding platform Kickstarter to fund the Museum of Non-Visible Art. Essentially, I wanted to put my money where my mouth is.

Equally, the Museum of Non-Visible Art exemplified the rise of what I have also termed "Social Media Art" and I wanted to endorse it. Social Media Art is the use of new media to create and launch projects, to produce traditional and social media buzz, and to establish cultural and economic value, principally by entertaining the public with a novel idea or narrative.

Also, I sensed that Franco’s project was controversial and I wanted to participate in the controversy and possibly benefit from it. Buying a modestly priced piece would not have made the same bold statement or entitled me to the same level of collaboration with Praxis as buying the most expensive item.

Did you plan your "One Hundred Jobs" project before or after the purchase? How soon before or after? If before, what inspired you to connect that project with Franco's MONA?

I launched "One Hundred Jobs" (a vlogging and blogging project where I am completing 100 different jobs paying a minimum of $100 each) on September 12, 2009, when I was unemployed as an actor and working temporarily as a cleaning lady, which was long before finding out about the Museum of Non-Visible Art. The project has revolutionized
my professional life; I have now completed 96 Jobs and am seeking my final 4 contracts.

Throughout my "One Hundred Jobs" project, by witnessing the meteoric rise of social media usage and by leveraging its power, I have promoted the artistic and economic potential of Internet projects. I felt that the Museum of Non-Visible Art mirrored the success of my project because it was created using new media tools and executed in a similar fashion using social media. By funding the project, I felt like I was enabling other artists to complete their work, just like businesses have graciously enabled me to complete my "One Hundred Jobs" project through their individual sponsorships of each job.

What was your favorite (or most memorable) job of the those related to the project that you've completed so far?

It’s always hard to answer this question because I have the burden of choice (96 jobs so far!) Every job has been a beautiful learning lesson!

I thoroughly enjoyed Job 73, when the Levis campaign, “Shape What’s To Come,” commissioned me to produce a video about National Adoption Month. I had 3 days to come up with a concept, find adopted children to interview and travel across the country to produce shoot, edit and publish the video. I am very happy with the result and loved meeting seven amazing adopted girls and their families.

What was your least favorite?

My least favorite job was Job 9, the Blackberry mascot job. I was hired by a marketing agency from Toronto to dress up as a mascot during a Blackberry sponsored relay event. The event was managed by inexperienced personnel who were unconcerned by my broken costume; the cooling fan inside the costume was broken, hot glue was poking my face and I could not see properly. Also, my supervisor made me stand outside in the rain for several hours without either a break or a handler to assist me. When I took off my costume to fix it and complained to the Blackberry reps inside of the Roger’s store, I was brought back by my supervisor to the home base of the event and terminated for the day. The marketing company never paid me for my time. It was dreadful.

Did you give yourself a time limit to finish the jobs? Why or why not?

Originally, I wanted to complete my project by December 31, 2010, but because finding, reporting on, and completing more than two jobs a week was so challenging, I changed my deadline to September 12, 2011, exactly two years after I started the project. Overall, I think the accomplishment and the social and artistic statement of completing my project matters more than adhering to a strict timeline.

How do you feel about the rise of social media art? Where do you see the art form going?

The rise of social media art is a natural evolution of our increasingly social use of the Internet and the cultural shift from traditional modes of broadcasting and media consumption to self-broadcasting and new media platforms. I see many more artists, performers, activists and companies employing Internet projects (Social Media Art) to promote their products and services, widen their networks and increase their economic success. Unless new media or social media platforms create a pay barrier, Social Media Art and Internet projects will only increase in number in the next few years.

From a marketing perspective, I think that many brands are catching on that they actually need to entertain and engage users on social media to warrant the users attention and resulting economic valuation. Brands can accomplish this either by sponsoring novel or popular new media art (like I did with the Museum of Non-Visible Art or as businesses have sponsored my jobs) or by creating their own Social Media Art that can win over the valuable attention of potential customers online.

How do you feel about the rude comments on your blog? Do you always respond?

I appreciate any and all comments left on my blog. Inflammatory comments are evidence that my work is [making] enough [of an impact] to inspire debate.

Also, you could say they call it viral media because many of the comments are sick! Content creators should not be concerned with what the audience says, so long that they are saying something. For example, the web series “Epic Meal Time” toasts to “the haters” for a reason; comments of any nature drive traffic, encourage sharing and repeat visits, which increases online reach, word of mouth marketing and eventually ad revenue or business because of additional impressions.

I try to respond to as many comments as I can, but don’t dignify ridiculous ad hominem attacks.

What are you planning to do once the 100 jobs project is done?

I will continue my work as a new media producer, artist, model and host. I have already created a new sexy and funny fail blog style project called LOLpervs (Youtube.com/LOLpervs; LOLpervs.com) that I will be leading for at least the next year.

Learn more about Aimee Davison here.

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