Painting Pizza: From Digital Art to IRL Yum With Artist Jonas Lund

January 30, 2013 | Eugene Reznik

Last June, Amsterdam-based interdisciplinary media artist Jonas Lund developed ThePaintshop.biz, a collaborative online platform for creating, buying and selling reasonable algorithm-priced art in real time. Many paintings were made, though not so many were sold–only about three of 3,500.

In an effort to reach a wider market, to extend beyond the standard art collector type milieu, he adapted the project to a more marketable medium: pizza.

The Paintshop.Biz, Pizza Edition went live at the Eyebeam Art + Technology annual showcase last week, where Lund has been a resident since the Fall. The program allots him a workspace and a forum for discussion to develop the project. The piece has already outsold its predecessor platform.

At the showcase, viewers could draft paintings on a virtual pizza canvas at a computer terminal, sign the work and thus claim it as their own. The artist/viewer would then buy their own work and order the pie to the exhibition space, or wait for someone else to do so and collect their commission (50% after production costs).

Lund, whose work has been previously featured in the New Museum’s online only First Look exhibition, partnered with nearby Famous Original Ray’s Pizza on Ninth Ave to produce the pies. The pizza staff found the project odd and funny, but were supportive and showed up to the opening to see the artworks fully actualized.

It’s the translation from screen to pie, to edible artwork that Lund calls the moment “when the piece comes to life.” There are definite performative aspects to the project, but Lund better describes it as “entrepreneurial art,” in which you create a system, engage all the players, and let it out into the world to see what happens.

Among the highlights at the showcase was a pie signed by Lund himself called “The Digital Divide.” Half-mozzerella, half-fresh tomato, segregated strictly down the middle, the piece was a nod to the recent contentious ArtForum article by the same title.

“It would be really funny if you could always get custom made pizza,” Lund says in an interview with ANIMAL. Though, “it’s a bit too early to say if it’s the future.”

The plan now is to find more pizzerias to participate. After the showcase, ordering was disabled in an effort to evaluate the system and think about how it can be optimized.

“So far more pizza has been sold than the paintings and it’s only been live for a week,” Lund says. “It’s definitely been more fun.”

(Photo: Eugene Reznik/ANIMALNewYork)