Anmerkungen und Kommentare
Remarks and Comments
Rachel Baker
Josephine Bosma
Dieter Daniels
Marco Deseriiis
Timothy Didymus
Jon Ippolito/Joline Blais
Christiane Paul
Yvonne Volkart
Elke Jensen
Joachim Lemppenau
Rachel Baker
I remember the call for contributions sent out by the Hamburger Kunsthalle in 1997 for Extension. It was doing the rounds on several mailing lists as a high profile Net art venture by the mainstream art and corporate sector who were still figuring out how to take advantage of this exciting new genre.
At Cornelia's request irational.org helped to deliver the UK contributors for her project female extension. My job was to trawl a UK telephone directory and select the names and addresses of random women. Heath Bunting arranged for accompanying email addresses to complete their entry identities for the competition.
Even whilst taking pleasure in collecting the names and addresses of anonymous women and turning them into Net artists, I was still not entirely sure about the purpose behind the task. Was it merely to secure that a female took a prize? I wondered how Cornelia was going to invent different artworks on behalf of each invented individual. Wouldn't each project have to be of a high quality standard in order to win? How would she manage to do this in time?
As in most great Net art pieces the process and the intention unfolds over time through various layers of mediation and re-contextualisation, revealing all kinds of complex relationships, attitudes and interpretations. The outcome is never entirely predictable, but in orchestrating an intervention of that scale Cornelia exposed an array of misconceptions in the Art Museum's approach to Net art, and not just in its gender expectations.
In fact, my favourite aspects to female extension has less to do with the primary argument of women's visibility in the systems of art, media and technology. What I delighted in most was the creation of a monstrous, international, multi-headed female army of Net artists and the networked collaboration that this required.
I feel proud to have played a small part in Cornelia's demonstration of the art of the network.


Josephine Bosma
Looking for creativity within the machine is nothing new. Think for instance of the work of Margaret Boden, who wrote extensively on artificial intelligences and creativity. Most of this work tends to concentrate on whether machines, or computers, can ever display any interestingly unpredictable creativity and whether they thus perhaps can make art. But what if we have been looking at art and machines in the wrong way? Cornelia Sollfrank's net.art generator is a tool which, in combination with how it was used in Sollfrank's female extension project, proofs that not just the maker, but the viewer's perception of a work really defines what is and what is not art in the end. This definition is then not only based on the cultural background and education of the viewer, but it is also very much based on the context and the apparent source of the work (or on what the viewer thinks is the context and source of the work). In other words, the definition of an art work is based on the perception of this art work, and perception is always sensitive to manipulation. It seems like the question is not whether machines can make art, but whether we are able (and willing) to see the machine's tinkering as such. Or maybe it is rather a question of whether we feel compelled to do so.
The net.art generator really cannot be seen separately from bigger projects, that is: on its own. On its own the net.art generator is just another piece of software to generate "something". This kind of software is most often used to create music (take bits of sound from anywhere, collage it and there you are: postmodern music), but it is also known from writing, of which the most famous example probably would be the Postmodernism Essay Generator (a modification of the DaDa Engine) by Andrew Bulhak. The net.art generator also thrives on text, this time HTML code. Whatever these generators produce however only seems to become interesting when we somehow feel captured by it, and this is seldom the case when hearing, reading or seeing a machinically generated work. With the exception of a few dedicated cybernauts or voluntary cyborgs most of us seem to need to be able to relate everything to human standards. Let me try to explain.
When we hear music, read text or see a visual art work we tend to look for meaning. In music this meaning is found in what purpose the music is supposed to serve (dance, enjoyment, awe). Even if the work in itself does not have an obvious meaning we still see a meaningfulness in the way an author has chosen a work to not contain or show meaning (it then usually relates to a discourse centered around a negation of meaning or on a rejection of the dominant discourses in general). This exploration and exchange of meaning is a kind of communication between audience and artist. When confronted with a machinically generated art work an audience can basically do two things: look for meaning in the "traditional" way I just described, or consider the merits of this work in the way it would consider anything else that does not convey meaning, like any non human generated phenomenon (a waterfall, stars, volcano's). In the case of the latter a machinically generated art work often just does not do the trick: it does not capture our attention in quite the same way. At most there is a sense of: "Isn't that some smart machine?!". Machinically generated art therefore almost always is perceived as an indirect form of communication created by the person who made the machine do what it did. It does not (or seldom) survive on its own.
For most of the audience the meaning of whatever the net.art generator creates probably lies in the purpose these creations are used for. The meaning is created by the project it is part of. In itself the net.art generator is much like those famous "painting by numbers" kits. Cornelia Sollfrank simply seems to have needed a machine that could help her create around 200 works of web art really fast, and this was it. The net.art generator helped Cornelia Sollfrank outsmart the jury of the Net art competition it was created for. It was a tool she needed at that moment in time. And it worked well.
Cornelia Sollfrank's female extension more or less took the judgment of Net art out of the hands of the jury of the first Net art competition. She did so by creating a project that not only dominated the competition itself, but which also continued beyond its borders. Cornelia Sollfrank at least suggested the jury's incapability to judge Net art works, while she at the same time revealed the slipperiness and boundlessness of many Net art works in a very original way. An art work created for vast media networks is very hard to contain within one space or frame, and this is exactly what can make it hard to judge or even recognize it.
female extension was not only a decentralised art work in the sense that it was divided over many web sites, it was also entered into that competition of the Hamburger Kunsthalle divided over many, many entries instead of the usual one.
It is very well possible that this jury (if only vaguely) suspected that many of the art works that were entered in their competition were really created by only one person or one group of people. It is also very well possible that this jury actually tried to see some good in the individual net.art generator generated web sites. They however failed to see the meaning of those web sites as a collection.
The entry of many Web sites under many false identities was not the entire work, the project seems to have continued online: an important part of the female extension project seems to have been the public announcement or revelation of the project. This is where the project finally came together. The revelation was the moment where the online communities were given the honor of judging for themselves who really was the winner of that competition for Net art. There was no doubt that this was Cornelia Sollfrank. She did not only reveal her playful concept and the organization skills she applied to gain so many working email and snailmail adresses. She also ridiculed the competition and its jury by emphasizing how the Hamburger Kunsthalle had proudly announced how many entries had come to their competition, how many of those were women, and how they then subsequently chose only male artists to be winners.
Sollfrank's victory was not just one in the field of art, but also one of women in the eternal battle of the sexes.


Dieter Daniels
Jury-Statement zu EXTENSION
Was ist das beste an einer Jury?
Etwas Neues zu lernen.
Wodurch lernt man am meisten?
Durch gute Fragen.
Was sind gute Fragen?
Welche, zu denen man erst mal keine Antworten weiss.

Die vorläufige Ausbeute:
1. Kann man das Prinzip Wettbewerb/ Einreichung/ Jury so wie beim Salon des 18. Jahrhunderts auch auf offene, untereinander vernetzte, sich entwickelnde Strukturen übertragen?
2. Kann man als Gruppe (z.B. Jury) im Netz surfen, oder geht dabei etwas Wesentliches der Interkation veloren?
3. Wie simpel muss eine Idee sein - oder wie komplex darf sie sein - um unter diesen Bedingungen Erfolg zu haben?
4. Gibt es "dort draussen" im Netz einen kleinsten gemeinsamen Nenner von "Kunst"?
5. Können Computerprogramme künstlerische Beiträge für Internet-Kunst-Wettbewerbe generieren?
6. Woher kommt all der Datenmüll?
12. August 1997



Dieter Daniels
Jury-Statement EXTENSION
What is the best of being on a jury?
To learn something new.
From what do you learn most? Good questions.
What are good questions?
Those you can't answer.

A first survey:
1. Can the model competition/ entry/ jury be transfered from the 18th century "Salon" to open, interrelated, developing structures?
2. Can you surf the net as a group (e.g. jury) without loosing the essentials of interaction?
3. How simple has an idea to be or how complex could it be to succeed in these circumstances?
4. Is "out there" on the Net any common idea about "art"?
5. Can computer programs generate artificial entries for internet art competitions?
6. Where does all that data trash come from?
August, 12th 1997


Marco Deseriis
She woke up, she rubbed her eyes and she realized that someone knocked from inside her closet the night before. It was a group of creatures, with big round gazing eyes, staring to a fixed point behind her shoulders.
She had asked the Oracle. The Oracle was unable to provide meaningful answers but only a set of pre-made possibilities. As for the creatures, she had provided a list of names and addresses for each of them. After that she had locked the closet again.
In the late morning the Reality Checker rung her bell and asked how many people lived in her place. She wasn't sure about the night before, so she gave him the Oracle's list, suggesting him to follow the printed order. The Reality Checker looked satisfied and left. But she knew the list wouldn't have resisted to a deeper control.
The following night the creatures knocked again. This time the Oracle extracted a pack of Tarots and suggested her to distribute a Tarot to each creature following a random order.
The next day the Reality Checker visited the creatures according to the list.
He took note of each Tarot with a certain curiosity, but he couldn't figure out any connection amongst them. He was not even able to see the existence of a connection.
Finally he came to her. She had a full pack of Tarots with her. She mixed the cards, she disposed them in a readable pattern and began to illustrate their properties. Then she mixed them again and she told the full story.
Now, the Reality Checker could see that the names were just a convention, the Tarots just a bunch of almost empty signifiers. But their weaving was beyond his imagination. Their weaving was opening them to multiple connections and relations. It was disclosing him a different order. Soon after, the Reality Checker quit his job and she paid a visit to her empty closet.


Timothy Didymus

timothy didymus


Jon Ippolito and Joline Blais
The net.art generator, a project conceived by Cornelia Sollfrank, is a series of Web-based scripts designed to generate random instances of online art. For example, nag_03, contributed by Barbara Thoens and Ralf Prehn, asks nothing more from a would-be Internet artist than the artwork's title and artist's name. Once these are input, clicking the "create" button spits out a Web page consisting of images pulled from search engine results based on the title; for example, the title Not Again produces a visual medley featuring the World Trade Center burning, wreckage of the Columbia Space Shuttle, and a Zimbabwean journalist recently released from prison.
The pictorial mishmash produced by nag_03 and the other art-making scripts Sollfrank has commissioned shows these machines have fat chance of generating new aesthetic triumphs. As machines for generating new attitudes, on the other hand, the net.art generators have performed rather well. The net.art generator was inspired by a call in 1997 for entries for Extension, a competition for Net-base art at the Kunsthalle in the artist's hometown of Hamburg, Germany. At the time, the overwhelming majority of online artists were men; Sollfrank used her net.art generator to right this imbalance by submitting more than 200 ersatz Web works, each by a fictitious female artist, to the jury for review. The results were convincing enough to fool the organizers into writing a press release touting "280 applications - Two thirds are women". On the day the Kunsthalle announced the winners, Sollfrank revealed her ruse female extension, exposing in the process that the jurors' high hopes for participation by women artists were coupled with low aesthetic expectations for their work.
Sollfranks' mischievous bots exemplify the deliberate wrongheadedness of artist-crafted code, in which the ostensible function of a software program is often the thin disguise for a motivation more political than technical.


Christiane Paul
As its name indicates, Cornelia Sollfrank's net.art generator firmly stands in the tradition and history of "generative art", which Philip Galanter has defined as "any art practice where the artist creates a process, such as a set of natural language rules, a computer program, a machine, or other procedural invention, which is then set into motion with some degree of autonomy contributing to or resulting in a completed work of art". From an art-historical point of view, generative art connects to Dada's experiments with formal variations, the Oulipo's experimental literature, and the conceptual pieces by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and Sol LeWitt that are based on the execution of instructions. For obvious reasons, the genre of generative art has experienced a surge with the advent of digital media. There is no digital art that does not have a layer of code and algorithms, a procedure of formal instructions that accomplish a "result" in a finite number of steps, and the digital medium also allows artists to create open systems that make scripts (instructions) available to anyone for execution and the creation of "original" artwork.
What distinguishes the net.art generator from many of the other works created in this tradition is that the project itself is conceived as an open system-inviting artists/participants to contribute their own scripts and variations-as opposed to an "original script" written by one artist as "sole creator". Apart from the conceptual aspect of creating instructions for execution by the public, projects such as the net.art generator have their basis in the infinite possibilities for recycling and reproduction of the information, be it visual or textual, that is floating through a network such as the Internet. Recycling has in itself become a genre of Net art, ranging from projects such as the so-called Web colliders-projects that mix existing information and make it "collide" into new forms-to experiments with information as an artificial life form.
The net.art generators operate on the basis of a "controlled randomness" an interplay between the artistic control, voice, and aesthetics evident in the formal parameters set by the artist and the seemingly haphazard collage of existing materials that is created by performing the instructions. The element of randomness in generative art projects has often been overvalued. Net artists frequently had to answer the same question as John Cage-why call it composing (art) if the elements are random and anyone can do it? - and were confronted by a disregard for the control inherent in scripting.
The net.art generator (and its many other generative colleagues) also raises fundamental questions about the shifts in the relationship between content and context that unfold in networked environments. The parameters set in these projects allow for exchanges between multiple contexts or create situations where contexts become the content of the artwork. The information that is grabbed from search engines or sites all over the network according to a generator's script originate in diverse, seemingly unrelated fields and contexts. The generator itself is subsequently undergoing constant shifts of context, which ultimately are the focus and content of the artwork.

extension [1 b: an enlargement in scope or operation] The net.art generator's premiere as a machine for generating submissions by more than 200 fictitious female Net artists for the Extension competition and exhibition organized by the Hamburger Kunsthalle made yet another important point regarding the concepts of context and the generative. In many ways, Cornelia Sollfrank's contribution female extension treated the objective of the original call for submissions-translating the notions of "material" and "object" into the environment of the Internet - in the most literal sense. As a conceptual project, female extension perfectly illustrates the status of the object in the networked realm as an open process and, to various degrees, an automated procedure. The creation of the networked "object" is one of mutation rather than "invention" of an original. The material is an information environment in flux that constantly generates its own data, which is open to reconfiguration. female extension did not only extend the traditional concepts of object and material but the idea of the artist (as an army of virtual clones and automated fluid identities rather than a solo genius), as well as the scope and operation of art and the art world.


Yvonne Volkart
Das Projekt female extension ist der Modellfall eines cyberfeministischen Aktes von Widerspenstigkeit: Es führt dominante Fiktionen über die strukturelle Weiblichkeit der Netze und digitalen Medien mit tatsächlichen feministischen Anliegen zusammen. Während bekannte Cyberttheoretiker und -theoretikerinnen gerne davon reden, dass die aktuelle Welt der digitalen Datennetze im Prinzip eine weibliche sei - und zwar deswegen weil sie horizontal und rhizomatisch, fluid und kybernetisch und damit letztlich antipatriarchal und utopisch ist - lässt sich kaum darüber hinwegtäuschen, dass auch heute noch Frauen an machtvollen Knotenpunkten fehlen. In einem künstlerisch-symbolischen und aktivistisch-interventionistischen Akt verkehrt female extension diese Leere zur scheinbar unbeherrschbaren Fülle: Codes von weiblichen Ambitionen und Machtgelüsten dringen in die realen Räume und Netze traditioneller Kunstinstitutionen und Medientheorien ein und besetzen die virtuellen Grauzonen umkämpfter Territorien. Gleichzeitig ist diese monströse Namensflut, diese weibliche Ausdehnung nichts anderes als ein leerer, aufgeschwollener Bauch einer Scheinschwangeren: das sichtbare Symptom unberrschter Wünsche nach Reproduktion und Existenz.
Der Computer und das Internet sind Medien der Reproduktion und Replikation, und sie funktionieren autopoietisch und unkontrollierbar extensiv. female extension lässt diese "weiblich-mütterlichen" Qualitäten des Computers buchstäblich Realität werden und schließt sie mit den Ausdehnungsfantasien weiblicher Kunstagenten kurz. Damit ragt das Projekt einsam auf in der Landschaft aktueller Netz-Kunst und ihrer Theorien. Es geht nicht um die Kittung oder Klitterung zersplitterter, fluider, kollektiver Identitäten. Nein, vielmehr geht es darum, die furchtbar-fruchtbaren Extensionen technokapitalistischer Monstrositäten und deren Auswirkungen auf die Subjekte und ihre Geschlechter zu replizieren. Und es geht darum, die unübersehbar gewordenen virtuellen Outputs weiblicher Entitäten auf die Liste manifester Tatsachen aufzunehmen: Analog zu unserer Zeit und doch in eklatanter Differenz verschränkt female extension Codes und Körper, Medium und Zeichen als sicht- und greifbare Fülle, Leere.


Yvonne Volkart
The project female extension is the model case of a cyberfeminist act of recalcitrance: It brings dominant fictions regarding the structural femininity of the nets and digital media together with actual feminist concerns. While well-known cybertheorists like to talk about how the current world of digital data networks is feminine - because they are horizontal and rhizomatic, fluid and cybernetic, and therefore, ultimately anti-patriarchal and utopian - it would be next to impossible to ignore that there is still a lack of nodal points of power for women. In an artistic-symbolic and activist-interventionalist act, female extension relates this emptiness to a seemingly uncontrollable abundance: Codes of female ambition and pretention to power force their way into real spaces and networks of traditional art institutions and media theories and inhabit the virtual gray zones of fought-over territories. At the same time, this monstrous flood of names, this female extension is nothing other than an empty, swollen belly of a feigned pregnancy: the visible symptoms of unleashed desires for reproduction and existence.
The computer and the Internet are media of reproduction and replication and they function autopoietically and extensively without limits. female extension has these "female-motherly" aspects of the computer literally become reality and cross-circuits them with the extension fantasies of female art agents. And so, the project rises alone above the landscape of current Net art and its theories. It's not about the restoration or the re-representation of shattered, fluid, collective identities. No, it has much more to do with replicating the frighteningly fruitful extensions of techno-capitalistic monstrosities and their effects on the subject and its gender. And it has to do with adding the virtual outputs of female entities, which have become impossible to ignore, to the list of manifest facts: Analogous to our time and yet with blatant difference, female extension entwines codes and bodies, media and signs as visible and tangible abundance, emptiness.


Elke Jensen
Im Jahr 2001 erhielt Cornelia Sollfrank ein Stipendium der internationalen Künstlerinnenstiftung Die Höge. Obwohl sie - wie ich - aus der Hamburger-Gegenwarts-Kunstszene kommt, lernte ich sie erst während ihres Arbeitsaufenthaltes auf der Höge kennen und begann, mich mit ihren Arbeiten zu beschäftigen. Da ich vorher keinen Zugang zur Netzkunst gehabt hatte, war es für mich eine große Bereicherung, von ihr in dieses Gebiet eingeführt zu werden. Ganz besonders lernte ich ihre Netzkunstgeneratoren und die kluge und humorvoll-subversive Vorgängerarbeit female extension schätzen.
Was mir in dieser Zeit sehr deutlich wurde, ist dass es ganz neue und ungeahnte Bereiche in der bildenden Kunst gibt, die allerdings für das durchschnittliche Kunstpublikum schwer zugänglich sind. Es bedarf einer enormen Vermittlungstätigkeit in allen Bereichen der digitalen und Medienkunst. Selbst wenn Cornelia Sollfrank in der Netzkunst-Szene zu den Pionieren gehört und dort einen festen Platz einnimmt, fällt es dem traditionellen Kunstbetrieb - zumindest in Deutschland - immer noch schwer, ihre Arbeit adäquat zu rezipieren.
So entstand während unserer Gespräche auf der Höge die Idee, ein Buch über sie und ihre Netzkunstarbeiten zu machen. Diese Künstlermonografie wird es auch KuratorInnenen, KunstkritikerInnen und KunsthistorikerInnen, die das Netz als künstlerisches Medium bisher aus ihrer Tätigkeit noch ausgeblendet haben, ermöglichen, sich der impliziten Fragen nach einer neuen Ästhetik, nach neuen Formen von Autorschaft und Originalität zuzuwenden - wie sie sich stringent duch das Werk Sollfranks ziehen. Ich freue mich sehr, dass die Höge zu dieser wichtigen Vermittlungsarbeit nicht nur einen Beitrag leisten, sondern den Anstoss dazu geben konnte.
Künstlerische Leitung, Die Höge



Elke Jensen
In 2001 Cornelia Sollfrank got a fellowship from the International Women Artist's Foundation Die Höge. Although we are both based in Hamburg's contemporary art scene, I only got to know her when she came for her resideny to Die Höge, and it was then that I started to study her artistic work. As I have not had any access to Net art before, I experienced her introduction to this field as a real enrichment. The net.art generators as well as their humorous-subversive predecessor female extension meanwhile count to my favourites.
What became quite evident during that time was the fact that there is a new and undreamt-of field in the realm of fine arts which is not easy to access for the average art audience. An enormous amount of mediation would be necessary in all fields of electronic and media art. And even if Cornelia Sollfrank counts to the pioneers of net.art and holds her uncontested position, the traditional art world still has problems to adequately adopt her work - at least in Germany.
Thus, during our conversations at Die Höge, the idea evolved to make a book about her and her work as a Net artist. The aim of this artist monography should be to allow art historians, art critics, as well as curators who are unexperienced with Net art to turn to the new aesthtetics, the new forms of authorship and questions around originality as they are not only implicit to Net art in general, but especially form the thread through the work of Cornelia Sollfrank. I am pleased that Die Höge not only is able to contribute to that mediation, but even could initiate it.
Artistic Director, Die Höge


Cornelia Sollfrank im Gespräch mit Dr. Joachim Lemppenau
Vorstandsvorsitzender der Volksfürsorge Versicherungen
Als Chef des Unternehmens ist er auch für die Kunstsammlung verantwortlich und war als Jurymitglied an der Auswahl der Künstler beteiligt.

C.S.: Sie haben für Ihre Sammlung einen meiner Netzkunstgeneratoren erworben. Durch den Kauf eines Netzkunstwerkes gehören Sie zu den Pionieren unter den Sammlern. Was hat Sie dazu bewogen, diesen Schritt zu wagen und auch Netzkunst in Ihre Sammlung aufzunehmen?

Dr.L.: Der Netzkunstgenerator ist ein zeitgenössisches Kunstwerk, das mit einem der wichtigsten Medien arbeitet, das wir derzeit besitzen - dem Internet. Mit dem Ankauf unterstützt die Sammlung Volksfürsorge aktuelle Tendenzen in der Kunst. Dabei geht es uns nicht vorrangig um den Besitz an einem materiell greifbaren Werk; andere Sponsoren machen eine Skulptur oder ein Bild im Museum für die Öffentlichkeit zugänglich. Wir empfinden es als zeitgemäßer und ausserdem für ein breiteres Publikum zugänglich, dies im Internet und mit Netzkkunst zu tun.

C.S.: Eine der Grundproblematiken beim Verkauf von Netzkunstwerken ist die Handhabung der Besitz- und Kopierrechte von Daten, die online sind. Was bedeutet es für Sie, Eigentümer dieses Generators zu sein?

Dr.L.: Es ist vereinbart worden, dass der Netzkunstgenerator über ein leicht bedienbares Web-Interface von allen Interessierten genutzt werden kann. Der Netzkunstgenerator ist also eine Art öffentliches Werk in unserer Kunstsammlung. Wir lassen den User die Kunst selbst gestalten. Jeder kann zum (Netz-)Künstler werden.
Darüber hinaus unterliegt der Code des Generators, also das Programm, einer Lizenz, der sogenannten "General Public License, GPL", die es ermöglicht, dass der Code selbst weitergegeben und verwendet werden darf.

C.S.: Wie gehen Sie mit den Anforderungen um, die durch die Wartung und Verwaltung des Online-Projektes entstehen?

Dr.L.: Durch das Budget der Kunstsammlung ist die Wartung des Werkes durch eine Firma zunächst für zwei Jahre gesichert. Nach zwei Jahren kann dann neu entschieden werden, wie es weitergeht. (Die Kosten sind nicht sehr hoch.)

C.S.: Können Sie sich vorstellen weiter in diese Richtung zu expandieren, sprich noch weitere Netzkunstwerke in Ihre Sammlung aufzunehmen?

Dr.L.: Die eingerichtete Sammlung soll zunächst einen exemplarischen Stand kurz nach der Jahrtausendwende in verschiedenen Medien zeitgenössischer Kunst dokumentieren. Eine weiterführende Planung ist noch nicht beschlossen, da es sich hier ja auch um eine Sammlung handelt, die im Prinzip ausschließlich einen festen Präsentationsort besitzt - das neue Hotel Royal Meridien. Der Netzkunstgenerator nimmt den weitesten Außenkontakt auf durch seine Präsenz im Internet und seine Zugänglichkeit über die Site http://www.volksfuersorge.de/kunst.

Hamburg, 01.11.03



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.

C.S.: You've acquired one of my net.art 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 well?

Dr.L.: The net.art 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 net.art generator would have a user-friendly Web interface for anyone who might be interested in using it. So the net.art 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) artist.
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 used, 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 net.art generator represents the widest reach in terms of contact since it is accessible via the site http://www.volksfuersorge.de/kunst.

Hamburg, November 1, 2003