The actor James Franco is standing next to his art work. You can't see it, of course, because it exists only in his head.
We've all seen strange reactions to abstract pieces of art. Think about how many times you've heard, "I could do that in an afternoon," in reaction to a Jackson Pollack or a "really someone paid for that?" in reaction to a Marc Rothko.
But, last month, the actor James Franco put his name behind a strange new project called the Museum of Non-Visible Art, which takes what it calls conceptual art to a whole new level. Their website is here and there's an explainer video here, but in simple terms, the idea of the museum is that the works of art don't exist physically, instead they are imagined by the artist. So when you purchase the "work of art" you get a "card" to hang on an empty wall and you "describe it to your audience."
Amazingly, the museum just made one big sale. A woman paid $10,000 for a piece title "Fresh Air," which Paste Magazine describes as:
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.
Today, The Huffington Post interviewed Aimee Davison, who bought Fresh Air,to ask her, why? She said:
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.
Then again, this shouldn't surprise us. Remember the air guitar that sold on eBay in 2003? Also Davison sold her soul on Craigslist for $100, earlier this year.
The money, by the way, goes toward taking the Museum of Non-Visible Art on the road.