Cornelia Sollfrank is described as a cyberfeminist, hacker and net.artist. Her project net.art generator makes use of an online computer programme that uses the images stored on the internet to 'create' new works questioning authorship, ownership and originality.
Sollfrank's current Centrespace exhibition at VRC, Dundee, displays some images developed through the net.art generator which used Andy Warhol's flowers as the base imagery. Sollfrank displays these alongside videos of lawyers discussing intellectual property, and a mock interview between herself and Andy Warhol. By taking clips of Andy Warhol saying various ambiguous phrases like 'uhhmmm, I don't know' and 'uhmm, yeh' Sollfrank constructs a conversation about the net.art generator and eventually seeks permission to use images of Warhol works to create new works such as the ones in the Centrespace.
Sollfrank also 'asks' Warhol what kind of work he thinks she's making, and his 'answer' is "political art", on which he can't elaborate. The significance of a world wide web that provides easy access to information, which can then be gathered and reworked, puts into question who owns the outcomes... then again if it is net.art need anyone own it?
Sollfrank speaks to Tilla Telemann on her use of the net.art generator to disrupt a museum competition that was aiming to collect net.art, which took place in the late 1990's.
TT: Another aspect of hacking is that it does seem to attract people who enjoy the intellectual challenge of creatively working around limits.
CS: Yes, hacking does have to do with limitations, but even more with norms. That's another parallel with art. The material that art works with are the things that constantly surround us. The only thing art actually does is break the patterns and habits of perception. Art should break open the categories and systems we use in order to get through life along as straight a line as possible. Everyone has these patterns and systems in his or her head. Then along comes art: What we're used to is disturbed, and we're taken by surprise. New and unusual patterns of perception offer up the same things in a completely new context. In this way, thought systems are called into question. And only the people looking for this are the ones who are interested in art at all.
Sollfrank used her net.art generator to disrupt a museum competition and its competition/jury/prizewinner structure and to highlight the museum's efforts to jump on the bandwagon of net.art without fully considering the existing context and significance of net.art as internet based and separate from typical museum hierarchies.
CS: The motto for the museum is: Collect, protect, research. A museum that seeks to deal seriously with Net art would have to collect Net art and seriously consider all the consequences of just how this art form is to be preserved and researched.
The barter project that Holly Knox Yeoman and I are currently working on will need to consider how our use of the Internet as a communication tool and collaboration space encourages openness of dialogue and to what extent it does or does not employ hierarchical structures.