net.art as Collectors' Object
Cornelia Sollfrank in conversation with Dr. Joachim Lemppenau, Chairman of the Board of Volksfürsorge 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
Hamburg, November 1, 2003
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 freely 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 World Wide Web.