eipcp Projects Creating Worlds
11 2010

Creating Worlds

For the exhibition 'Culture(s) of Copy' at Edith-Ruß-Haus for Media Art Cornelia Sollfrank realized a new work, which is the last part of her project 'This is not by me'.

Another Originality
– A RFID-based method for the authentication of artworks

Although the endless reproducibility of digital artworks fulfils, in an exemplary way,  Benjamin’s claim for the disposability of art for all, this development remains a stark contrast to the market and its premises for the creation of value: authorship, originality and scarcity are as essential now as ever.

Thus, artists who, for good reason, prefer digital media for the production and distribution of their works regularly see themselves confronted with the anachronistic situation of being asked to sign their works in order to make them marketable. The signature is supposed to guarantee scarcity on the one hand,  and an auratization of the work, through the physical touch by the master, on the other.

Under the motto “Get the work for free. Buy the signature” Cornelia Sollfrank now suggests a consequential technical solution. While all works stay free and remain available for everybody, the artist offers a forgery-proof microchip to the prospective buyers of her anonymous-warhol_flowers. The works outfitted with a chip thus can easily be identified as 'originals'.

For the presentation in Oldenburg six prints that can only be distinguished through the chips on their back are hung next to each other. The chips contain an authentification text referring to the overall concept as well as a unique hardware number, which can be made visible with a special reading device. Thus, the focus of perception shifts from visual to the conceptual.

"The artworks are no longer identified through their visual or material aspects, rather, through concealed data. Visual specificity is overruled by conceptual abstraction that the actual images are transformed into media for an aesthetic discourse that is not concerned with identity or identification, but with the conditions of both." (Jacob Lillemose, 2009)

The technical basis of Another Originality is RFID technology (Radio Frequency Identification) that allows for identification with the help of electromagnetic waves. A RFID transponder consisting of a microchip and a circular antenna is attached on the backside of the artwork with a specially designed tag. The chip offers a writeable and readable memory plus a unique and unalterable hardware number that guarantees the identity of the tag. 'Passive' transponders as used within Another Originality do not have their own power supply. The chip does not actively transmit, but the data stored can only be read out through a specific reading device. The transfer of data takes place on a specific frequency using the transmission energy of the reading device. No visual is required.

The application of this technical solution also aims at preventing conventional, often doubtful procedures of authentication, like the ones used by the Warhol Art Authentication Board, for instance. Thus, it will also help avoid eventual and costly legal cases.

Cornelia Sollfrank’s complex of works This is not by me is an exploration of the aesthetic and legal aspects of Internet-based artistic appropriation. Exemplary object of her investigation is Warhol’s iconic flower motif. Until now, the following works have been realised: copyright © cornelia sollfrank 2004 (2004), Legal Perspective (2004), anonymous-warhol_flowers (seit 2006) and I DON’T KNOW (2006).

Edith-Ruß-Haus für Medienkunst: 'Culture(s) of Copy.' An Exhibition about Art and Copy.

November 26th, 2010 – February 20th, 2011

Opening: Thursday, November 25th, 2010, 7 p.m.



Expanded ORIGINAL, Cornelia Sollfrank, Verlag Hatje Cantz, 2009

net.art generator, Cornelia Sollfrank, Verlag für Moderne Kunst Nürnberg, 2004

New Media Art, Mark Tribe, Reena Jana and Uta Grosenick, TASCHEN Verlag, 2006

Geschichte der bildenden Kunst in Deutschland, Band 8, Vom Expressionismus bis heute, Hrsg./Ed.: Barbara Lange, Prestel Verlag, München, 2006