20 April, 2007

Indigenous art - dot technology

It is hoped a series of tiny dots will protect thousands of Australian Indigenous artworks and artists from fraud and exploitation.

Former Northern Territory government minister Peter Toyne is an executive with Alice Springs-based company IdenteArt, which developed the technology alongside the CSIRO.

The artwork is protected by microscopic dots that stores information about the artist and the gallery or art centre where the work was made.

The information will then be stored on a national database held in trust by the Federal Government.

The dots are either sprayed onto a tamper-proof label or directly onto the works themselves.

Dr Toyne says about 12,000 Indigenous artworks are in the process of being protected by the dots.

"The glory of it is that it's so flexible that you can actually spray this code onto basketware or pottery or boomerangs or didgeridoos as well as embodying it into a label attached to the back of paintings," he said.

Dr Toyne says the industry had to develop a solution to the unethical practices in the Indigenous art world.

"There'll be a fence line thrown up around 3,500 artists and 12,000 Indigenous works of art initially, and that fence line defines safety and fair returns for their work compared to the rest of the market, which will have all of the collection of ethical and unethical trading," he said.

He says the initiative also aims to employ Indigenous workers.

"[It will] create about 125 jobs for Indigenous people, largely in remote communities," he said.

"[They will be] actually putting the authentication on the works and registering the works on a national and international database that will support the tracking of these works through the market."

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