Cornelia Sollfrank on Wed, 28 Jan 2004 19:18:06 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> as Collectors Object

Net Art as Collectors' Object - 
How Smart Artists Make the Machine do the Work

With the purchase of artist Cornelia Sollfrank's generator
'nag_04', the Sammlung Volksfürsorge becomes a pioneering art collector.

In 2003, the Sammlung Volksfürsorge put together one of the largest
collections of contemporary art outside a museum. With a budget of EUR
800,000, contemporary works from a wide variety of media were acquired:
from painting and sculpture to photography and video art to Net art. The
permanent exhibition space for the collection is the newly opened luxury
hotel Le Royal Méridien Hamburg on the Outer Alster Lake. The Galerie Ruth
Sachse, overseeing the project, proposed acquiring for the collection not
only completed images by Cornelia Sollfrank but also the computer program
that generates the images. In cooperation with Panos Galanis of IAP GmbH,
Hamburg, the artist developed a new generator that works
exclusively with images.

Since 1999, Cornelia Sollfrank has been making new images, texts and/or
automatic collages out of sites and HTML material available on the World
Wide Web. So far, five versions of the program based on this concept have
been created with varying emphases and formats. What they all share is a
user-friendly WWW interface. The programs are based on Perl scripts which,
once the user has entered the title of a work and the name of an artist,
send the request to a specific search engine. The material called up
according to the search terms is then processed in 12 to 14 randomly
generated steps and placed in new combinations. The automatically
generated images, texts or Web sites are stored in an archive, the
' gallery.' Furthermore, the source code of the generator has not
become private property of the collection, but is subject to the General
Public License, GPL, which makes it possible for the code to be modified
and distributed.

Processes of rationalization via computer and automatization become means
of artistic production via the generator. Art works, traditionally
understood as authentic, unique, creative and innovative can then just as
well be created by a computer program. With the advent of new media,
classic questions regarding authorship, originality, materiality, the role
of the artist and the work are newly challenged.

"And surprisingly quickly, you get used to the idea that the production of
art can, in the end, only take place via the repetition, theft, quotation,
combination and reprocessing of an underlying aesthetic program." Ute
Vorkoeper in 'Programmed Seduction'

Anyone who finds all that too complicated can go to the six floor of the
hotel and see for themselves a series of automatically generated and
aesthetically quite appealing images of flowers.

Le Royal Méridien Hamburg, An der Alster 52-56, 20099 Hamburg

A smart artist makes the machine do the work. Keep on Generating!

Internet Addresses:
Sammlung Volksfürsorge:
Homepage for the generators: generator nag_04:
Images (download):

Contact: Julia Eble
Press and Publicity
Tel.: 040/2865-4603
FAX: 040/2865-5771


Net Art as Collectors' Object 

Cornelia Sollfrank in conversation with Dr. Joachim Lemppenau, Chairman of
the Board of Volksfuersorge Versicherungen. As head of the insurance
company, he is also responsible for the art collection and, as a jury
member, took part in the selection of the artists.

Hamburg, November 1, 2003

C.S.: You've acquired one of my generators for your collection.
The purchase of a Net art work makes you a pioneer among collectors. What
moved you to take this step and introduce Net art to the collection as

Dr.L.: The generator is a contemporary work of art that makes use
of one of the most important media we now have - the Internet. With this
purchase, the Sammlung Volksfuersorge is supporting current directions in
art. Ownership of a materially tangible art work is not our concern; other
sponsors make a sculpture or a painting available to the public in a
museum. We find this more appropriate for our time, and besides, we're
making the work available to a broader public by doing this on the
Internet and with Net art.

C.S.: One of the fundamental problems with purchasing Net art is the
administration of copyright and rights of ownership regarding data that is
online. What does it mean to you to be the owner of this generator?

Dr.L.: It was agreed that the generator would have a user-friendly
Web interface for anyone who might be interested in using it. So the generator is a sort of public work in our collection. We allow the
"user" to create the art on his or her own. Anyone can become a (Net)

What's more, the code of the generator, that is, the program, is subject
to a license, the so-called General Public License, GPL, which makes it
possible for the code to be modified and distributed.

C.S.: How will you be handling the needs that arise for the maintenance
and administration of an online project?

Dr.L.: The budget for the art collection ensures that the work will be
maintained by another company for two years. After two years, we can
decide how to carry on. (The costs aren't very high.)

C.S.: Could you imagine expanding further in this direction, that is,
adding another work of Net art to the collection?

Dr.L.: The art collection has initially been set up to document exemplary
works of contemporary art in various media immediately after the turn of
the millennium. The plan does not currently project much further than
that, particularly since it's a collection which principally has a single,
immobile location - the Hotel Royal Meridien. The generator
represents the widest reach in terms of contact since it is accessible via
the site

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                      take it and run!

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