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November 09, 2005

Owning netart for free

original 2.jpg

Go for the original, not the copies

The dichotomy between an original (authentic) work of art and its copies isn't a new one. Walter Benjamin adressed it a long time ago and stated that the work's aura (its distinctive characteristic) gets lost when technically reproducing it. This discussion became a bit obsolete when digital culture (and its artifacts) became common in our contemporary world. When looking at a net art piece, how can you conceptualize an original (and its copies) when the work is online, accessible to everyone at the same time? Ubiquity doesn't go along with unicity, at least not at a first glance.

This debate has become old, so much has been said and written around the lost of "the original" (its death by means of the digital) that nobody is interested in it lately. Benjamin couldn't expect this turn of events, but we solved the problem. No original, no copies, just information accessible to everyone.

But what if someone wanted to subvert this status quo? What if an artist missed a time when a work of art was a unique object that one could own? That is what Carlos Katastrofsky's "the original" is all about. This netart project allows you to be the owner of a unique (one of a kind) netart piece. The confusion arises. How can one be the owner (in the traditional sense) of netart? The truth is one can´t and in this lies the interest of "the original". Katastrofsky allows you to be the owner of a unique, numbered, but not signed (the irony continues...) work of art; of something that isn't an object and that will disapear from your screen as soon as you close the window. Your original work of art will forever be gone and the only memory of it will be a print (if you decided to take the artist's advice and print it) and your name in a list of "owners of original artworks by carlos katastrofsky".

This is an extremely ironic project. It allows you to traditionally own a net art piece, own it like any objectual art piece. But the irony lies in the fact it isn't an object, and what you can own is nothing more than a copy (a print out) of that non existing object, another irony (what is a copy of a net art piece?)... In the end there is nothing of an object here, just a process, a set of rules that leads you to the point of questioning unicity, ownership and the object-like nature of a digital art work.

The Original
Carlos Katastrofsky

Posted by luis at November 9, 2005 06:00 AM