Exhibition at the Edith Russ Site for Media Art,
January 23 to April 19, 2009
The exhibition focuses on the central Western art concept of originality and its media-induced expansion. The historic tradition of copying (in the same media) is aligned with the technical reproduction of an artwork (transformation into a different media) and the completely loss-free reproducibility of digital data. Shifts in “originality” cause shifts in the concepts of authorship and authenticity: This can be seen most clearly in the increasingly sharpening of the conflict regarding copyright and intellectual property. These conflicts fundamentally demonstrate that unlimited availability and loss-free copying are incompatible with the underlying premises of copyright.
In a continuation of the MuseumShop project begun in 2007 at the Märkisches Museum Witten, a number of original artworks (oil paintings, prints and bronze sculptures) – as well as a copy – are enlisted for an artistic test assembly. Based on the loans from Oldenburg museums which are all exhibited at the Edith Russ Site for Media Art, the aesthetic, medial and juristic conditions under which these works were copied, reproduced and distributed are examined. This also includes the professional reproductions carried out by a museum photographer, which is documented in the video The Maximal Unique and its Transformation into the Similar (2007), as well as in “Contract Space,” which provides a visualized interface to the discourse on intellectual property rights. The standard procedure undertaken by stock photography agencies – the marking of copyrighted digital images with a clearly recognizable logo, thus making them unusable for other purposes, or the more subtle variant of technical safety measure involving the use of a so-called “watermark” – resulted in the exhibition in an – aesthetically by all means appealing – expansion of the originals involved. The test assembly’s central component is the WebShop of the stock photography agency www.art-content24.de (since 2007), where the artworks, now turned into contents, are offered for sale. Instead of assuming the explicit position of a critic, Cornelia Sollfrank herself operates an agency and thus becomes the profit-oriented exploiter of her colleagues’ works. Whoever wants to see or own their works without a logo must pay for it.
The task of the plagiarism detection software Déjà Vu (2009) is to verify and hinder the misapplication of the artworks.