Dragan Espenschied to Lead Rhizome's Digital Conservation Program


After an international search, leading digital preservation specialist, artist, and musician Dragan Espenschied has been appointed to lead Rhizome's growing and award-winning Digital Conservation program. Espenschied, who will relocate from Germany to New York for the position, will bring the program to its next phase and steward the ArtBase, Rhizome’s collection of over 2,000 born-digital artworks. 


Oliver Laric's Response to BiennaleOnline


Screenshot of Oliver Laric, An Incomplete Timeline of Online Exhibitions and Biennials (2013). Web page with text and still images.

Rhizome is pleased to present a new artwork by Oliver Laric, An Incomplete Timeline of Online Exhibitions and Biennials (2013). Initially intended for inclusion in BiennialeOnline 2013 organized by ARTPLUS, the work is now launching as part of the Rhizome ArtBase instead.


Beyond a href: Preserving Flash-driven Art


As Digital Preservation Fellow with Rhizome, my work has focused on archiving works of net art from the live web into the ArtBase.  Net art, despite the benefits of being abstract - it rarely gets moldy! - is built on exceptionally fragile media.  A server failure, domain shift, or missing file is enough to effectively destroy a work of art.  As such, to properly preserve the pieces in the ArtBase, I work alongside Ben Fino-Radin to crawl, download, and adjust works for hosting in our archive.  The scope of the ArtBase - from hypertext experiments to Twitter-fed visualizations - brings me in contact with an array of technologies, media, and unexpected use cases.  While nearly every work of net art in the ArtBase founded on HTML, most go beyond it: embedded multimedia is very frequently used for a variety of purposes and effects.  As such, developing a system to download and preserve complex media objects is of tremendous importance to my work.

One of the most common multimedia formats used in the ArtBase is Flash, dating back to its origins with FutureWave and through its development by Macromedia and Adobe.  Of the myriad formats used in the ArtBase’s collection, SWF is the most prevalent and deeply used multimedia filetype: over a third of the archived works are founded on it.  Its combination of power (few formats offer its combination of browser-driven multimedia and interactivity) and ubiquity on audience machines made it the obvious choice for artists looking to go beyond the HTML and JavaScript-driven net art of the late 1990s. Hence, working with Flash is greatly important to Rhizome’s preservation mission.

Splash screen, Inflat-O-Scape (2001)

SWF, as a format, presents a number of challenges for art conservators and archivists.  As a binary format, it cannot be immediately parsed by text-friendly tools (such ...


Rhizome at the Reasons to be Creative Conference


This Thursday, June 14th, Rhizome's Nick Hasty and Ben Fino-Radin will be speaking about digital preservation and the ArtBase at the Reasons to be Creative Festival here in NYC. Featuring a wide variety of renowned speakers, such as John Maeda, Ken Perlin, Jer Thorp, Zach Lieberman, and Amit Pitaru, the two-day conference will be hosted at the School of Visual Arts. From the website:

Reasons to be Creative is a festival for creative artists, designers and coders. The festival brings together some of the most respected and brilliant minds from the worlds of art, code, design and education to share their passion, knowledge, insights and work. Expect two days packed with talks, networking, inspiration and learning.

Tickets are available here.


New Design and Features for the ArtBase


Rhizome is happy to announce that we have launched a new design and a big new feature for The ArtBase. In case you are not familliar with the ArtBase, it is Rhizome's archive of internet art and new media, contains over 2,000 works of art, and spans nearly two decades of history. Facing such vast size and complexity, and seeing a lack of major archives of internet art and new media that are accessible to a general audience, a major goal of ours was to afford greater to the history and context of these works, as well as improved searchability and browseability. To address the issue of education, accessability, and context we have accessibility launched a new feature: collections.

Just as a museum may provide access to their catalog through historic or thematic groupings, the ArtBase collections seek to surface trends, themes, and creative modes inherent in our collection. We are launching this feature with six initial collections: Formalism & Glitch, Code, Net.art & Hypertext, Tactical Media, Rendered Reality, and Digital Archivalism. Each collection leads off with a curatorial statement, aiming to provide context for the viewer who may not be familiar with the history of these creative practices. The content of the collections is not static, and will grow and change with the evolution of the ArtBase. As well, while these initial six collections were curated by Rhizome, subsequent collections will be curated and driven by indipendent curators and scholars.

Moving forward, we have two big projects on our to-do list for the summer. First, we are in the initial stages of migrating the back-end of the ArtBase to a new collections management platform, which will allow us to catalog works with better metadata standards, and correlate works, artists, collectives, exhibitions in ways that we currently can not ...


ArtBase Update


Takeshi Murata – Untitled (Pink Dot) (2007)

Here at Rhizome HQ we have been quietly working away from within the depths of the ArtBase. I'm pleased to announce that we have recently archived six works by Takeshi Murata, spanning from his early hand drawn animations, through his pioneering datamosh works, the 3D animation that was included in Free, to his recent body of work that debuted at Ratio 3 gallery last April. The excerpts of his work now available in the ArtBase are in most cases the only high quality (read: not bootlegged) examples available freely online.

Untitled (Silver)  • Untitled (Pink Dot)Melter 2I, PopeyeHomestead GraysGet Your Ass To Mars

Here are some more recently archived works we are particularly excited about:

Christian Oldham – Selected works 2010-2012
Brenna Murphy – facingface~terrestrialtrancetree
Nicolas Sassoon – Mansion Studies
John Transue, Micah Schippa, Tabor Robak, Parker Ito, Jon Rafman – PaintFX
Adam Cruces – Desktop Views
Justin Kemp – Proclaiming My Love

Kim Asendorf – ExtraFileGIF MARKETSolo show in Sim City
Jonas Lund – Collection EnlargementI'm Here and ThereOver and Over Again
Jon Rafman – Woods of Arcady
Sarah Weis & Emilie Gervais – blinkingsite.com 

What are we missing? The ArtBase is a constantly growing and evolving archive – if we are lacking to represent a particular facet of net.art history or contemporary practices, by all means let us know. As well, we are always accepting submissions. Stay tuned for an update soon on a few big projects that are in the works!


Ben Fino-Radin Rhizome's Digital Conservator on Supporting Preservation


Ensuring that a piece of software will always work; capturing the subtleties of aging technology; extracting content from the clutches of closed platforms – none of these are simple feats, yet this is what Rhizome does on a daily basis. Since the ArtBase was founded in 1999, it has grown to become one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of it's kind. Today, the ArtBase is a free collection providing documentation and access to over 2,500 art works spanning nearly two decades. We need your continued support to keep the ArtBase free, open and permanent - Please make a contribution today!

I joined Rhizome this past August, and it has truly been a pleasure to become part of a team that is saving a significant moment in art history from the void. We work hard every day to ensure that future generations will be able to study the work of our time.

Thanks to your support the following is only a tiny selection of what we have accomplished recently:

• Archive and restore lost video assets to Lev Manovich's "Little Movies" (1994)

• Restore access to "VVEBCAM" (2007) by Petra Cortright, after it was censored and removed by YouTube

• Support new additions to the collection, including Travess Smalley, Esther Hunziker, Richard Vijgen, Mouchette, Dave Gerber, Sterling Crispin, and Andrew Norman Wilson just to name a few recent additions

• Begin collaborations with online exhibition spaces to archive and preserve their output

Simply put, we are only able to do this because of your continued support. The fact is we can't do it without you.  Your donation today enables Rhizome to be a greater advocate for the preservation of a unique moment of art history. With your support, we can take bigger steps toward solving the complex challenges posed by preserving digital ephemera. On behalf of everyone at Rhizome, and on behalf of the artists whose work we preserve, I hope you will consider making a contribution to our Campaign today!



Update From the ArtBase




For my maiden post on the Rhizome staff blog, I’d like to highlight some recent developments and changes in the ArtBase. First and foremost, it is my pleasure to announce that Rhizome is a new member of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance. This consortium devoted to the longevity of digital materials consists of a diverse range of institutions, from non-profit organizations such as the Internet Archive, and ArtSTOR, to academic libraries and research institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution, Emory University Libraries, and Harvard University. We could not be more pleased, and look forward to complementing our own research with the aggregate experience of the more than 80 partner institutions.

Next up on the agenda: today we are launching a new set of featured works in the ArtBase, including artists Vuk Cosic, Kristen Lucas, Mouchette, Eryk Salvaggio, and Kendal Bruns. While perusing these featured works, you may notice a new little icon, next to the year of the work’s creation. This little blue icon indicates that we have an archival copy of the work you are viewing. If you see this icon displayed on an ArtBase record, you can rest assured that as time passes, the work’s longevity and your ability to access it is ensured. From link rot, to digital obsolescence, we’ve got it under control. We are hard at work transitioning the entire collection to archival standards, but until we do some entries will still have the following red icon, indicating that we have yet to create a stable archival copy of this work:

The ArtBase team has been hard at work with some very exciting projects involving the restoration of classic pieces of net art – some of which have been inaccessible for years. We will be releasing more details on the progress of ...


Keeping it Online


Today I am pleased to announce the publication of a paper that documents the past, present, and future preservation practices of Rhizome's archive, the ArtBase. This paper is the synthesis of years of research conducted by Rhizome and other leaders of digital preservation, in and outside of art institutions. What follows is an attempt to summarize a few key points. The paper in its entirety is available here: Sustainable Preservation Practices and the Rhizome ArtBase

"…if nobody sees a museum piece, what’s the point of having it or keeping it? Museums exist for a social purpose, for us humans."
Bruce Sterling, keynote address at “Preserving the Immaterial: A Conference on Variable Media,” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2001.

JODI – Globalmove.us

What happens when an institution acquires a digital work of art? How does one preserve and ensure the longevity of an art object that is inextricably tied to infrastructure built and controlled by neither artist nor institution? How can a work that exists in a social space, or makes use of real-time external data sources, be documented? These questions have long plagued collectors, conservators, and collecting institutions, as well as artists themselves. At Rhizome we face these challenges daily in our effort to preserve and ensure access to a multi generational practice and legacy of work produced by the communities we are built upon. The first line of Rhizome's mission statement reads: "Rhizome is dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology." Of these tenets, one that perhaps occupies the least public awareness, yet constitutes a significant portion of our labors ispreservation. It is at the core of Rhizome's mission of support.

Since it's inception in 1999, the ArtBase has undergone numerous stages of evolution. What began as a simple place for sharing links has grown into a comprehensive archive adherent to international archival standards, containing over 2,500 works. Parallel to the archive's evolution, we have witnessed the aging of these works, some dating to 1994. From broken links to obsolete plugins, we have seen it all. Slowly but surely we are migrating works to host on our servers so that we may provide stable URLs, understand the digital objects that a work is composed of, and create stable versions of works that will remain unharmed by technological innovation. We are on a deep level working to ensure true longevity for these works, that 30 years from now they will be accessible and functional. Rhizome is 100% committed to providing permanent, free, public access to this collection and its cultural context...



From the Rhizome Artbase: %20wrong (2000)- JODI


In this series of posts, we will be blogging recently updated content from Rhizome's Artbase.

Founded in 1999, the Rhizome ArtBase is an online archive of new media art containing some 2503 art works, and growing. The ArtBase encompasses a vast range of project by artists all over the world that employ materials such as software, code, websites, moving images, games and browsers to aesthetics and critical ends.

%20wrong (2000)- JODI

%20wrong (2000), JODI (Screen Shot)

This work has been restored and is now being permanently hosted on the Artbase. More recently repaired works from the ArtBase can be found here.