Cornelia Sollfrank. Dundee, September 2010.
The following text is a review of Female Extension in hindsight. The intervention was the attempted hack of the first competition of Internet art, held by the museum Hamburger Kunsthalle in 1997. It was my first active involvement with Internet art and should lead to a long-standing investigation of the marriage of Internet, art and politics.
press release, Sept.12, 1997
EXTENSION, the first net.art competition has been hacked
127 contributions to the world's first competition for internet art have not been produced by artists but by a computer program.
"280 registrations--two thirds of them are women", says a press release launched by Kunsthalle Hamburg at 3rd of July, 1997, while the net.art competition EXTENSION still was in progress. The news were picked up and disseminated by several on- and offline magazins and newspapers like 'Morgenpost', and 'Bunte online'.
But the museum as well as the press fell victim to a hack: In fact, 127 of the contributions to the competition do not originate from artists but from a computer program. It was the Hamburg-based net.artist Cornelia Sollfrank who has developed and used the program in order to automatically generate net.art websites. For her intervention to the competition, Sollfrank has invented hundreds of fictitious female net.artists, equipped them with names, addresses, and even functioning e-mail addresses. Then she registered the fresh artists to the competition, and after she had received the passwords to send in the material for the competition, she made use of the computer program which would generate the art. The sent in websites consisted of randomly recombined webpages which a defined serach engine had collected before.
Besides the increased chance of winning one of the prices, the artist tried to take the theme of the competition particularly serious: "Internet as material and object".
What does the gender model of male/female mean on the net? Is it possible to check if there's a male or a female person behind an e-mail address? Is the number of virtual identities into which a net.artist can split up limited? FEMALE EXTENSION does ask these and many more questions.
But first of all FEMALE EXTENSION demonstrated that art on the internet can mean much more than just creating websites. It is about picking the technological dispostives of the net as a theme, and working with them as the material of art.
Kontakt: cornelia [at] artwarez.org