Repairing the ArtBase


Travess Smalley, Neon Hi Life (2011)

One of the challenges of maintaining the Rhizome ArtBase is the ongoing maintenance and repair of technically outdated or non-functioning artworks. Some of the web-based materials employed by net artists at earlier moments, such as browser plug-ins like Director and Flash or in-browser applets like Java, have been rendered obsolete by newer versions of these technologies.

It is our goal to make sure art from earlier Internet eras is not lost to technological obsolescence. We have begun to inventory the ArtBase, and to repair works. In some cases, replacing outdated HTML within the artwork's code can make it accessible on currently supported technologies while keeping the conceptual framework of the artwork firmly intact. While some repairs can be executed by reinterpreting code, others require translating data to current formats or building emulators to run obsolete software. Once an artwork is repaired, we then host an updated copy of the artwork on the Rhizome server so that the artwork can be experienced via contemporary browsers, and preserve the original code for posterity.

Repairing and hosting these artworks is a service that Rhizome will now more actively provide, as we want to make a robust history of the field available and feel that artists should not have their practices slowed by continually updating their previous works, but rather focus on developing new works. As well, artists involved in the ArtBase should have the satisfaction of knowing their work is always available and secure on the Rhizome website.

Check out our list of recently repaired works from the ArtBase and see preservation in action!

Support the Preservation Initiative and help us to continue offering this unique resource to artists.

Donate today!

Donations made by Saturday June 11th will receive limited-edition desktop wallpaper from artists Francoise Gamma or Travess Smalley.