3264 Spam Cans – Art Wants to be Free is an innovative, cutting edge public debut from digital artist Colin Colorful. Colorful launched his career with this work, a 21st century response (perhaps a contemporary upgrade) to Andy Warhol's 32 Campbells Soup Cans. Warhol's original was displayed at a Los Angeles gallery in 1962 and is considered one of the most influential works in Pop Art.
An exploration of our collective relationship with Pop Art in this Internet dominated world, this work celebrates and exploits the mass automation of data, and the recently acquired ability of technology to endlessly produce and distribute en mass aesthetic works by providing a unique and original interpretation of the theme to each and every viewer. Moreover, the work has many, many potential forms – in fact, there are many millions times more potential derivations of 3264 Spam Cans than there are atoms in the observable universe!
The work is made up of 64 images of a “Spam Can” with variations in angle and color. These images are arrayed in a grid of eight by four (much the same layout as Warhol's Soup Cans) making a total of 32. The order of the array is changed each and every viewing, with so many potential derivations that it is extremely unlikely that the same pattern will ever be repeated. (To find out exactly how many variations there are, see the Math of Spam section in the About menu.)
The method of creation and distribution was chosen specifically to compliment the thematic concerns of the piece. Much in the same way that “real” canned SPAM is produced in an automated production line, the creation of the unique derivations of this work are generated by a computer algorithm run on this web site's server; and the artworks were originally delivered by email (legally spammed) in April 2009 to over 10 million people worldwide. This is, essentially, the digital equivalent of an automated factory and mass distribution network.
All this came at a significant outlay to the artist, but at no cost to the consumer. As there are trillions upon trillions of variations of this work, the law of supply and demand clearly states that when supply totally outstrips demand (there are many millions of versions of this artwork for every human being on the planet) that the cost of each unit should fall to zero. This is exactly what 3264 Spam Cans – Art Wants to be Free achieves: everyone can have as many unique copies of this work as they could ever want.
Thus, obtaining a unique, original version of this artwork is completely free.
But herein lies the irony: though there are millions and millions of unique works out there, there is only one true original; the Digital Original. The Digital Original is this web site, it is the source code, it is the original images and it is an exciting new development in the distribution of digital art. It is also the world's first ever Digital Original artwork, see more in the Provenance section.