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Archives & Museum Informatics



Rhizome ArtBase: Archiving net art

Mark Tribe,, US

Session: Demo Session 2

Internet art is the most ephemeral of art forms. The lack of established support for Internet art has resulted in the premature disappearance of many of its most significant early projects. Akke Wagenaar’s ”” is a good example. Russian Internet artist Alexei Shulgin writes: “Akke Wagenaar's sever doesn't exist anymore. If you try to reach it, you'll get ‘server doesn't have a DNS entry’… Akke Wagenaar was among first artists who started to explore Internet as medium. Her Hiroshima project was quite successful and important for the development of Internet art.” is addressing this problem with the Rhizome ArtBase, an online preservation archive of Internet artwork. The ArtBase provides a secure environment where significant Internet artworks are preserved for the future. Each artwork is indexed and databased for efficient access via the Web.

The Rhizome ArtBase currently has 71 artworks, and is expected to grow rapidly in the coming months as artists submit work for consideration. Projects in the Rhizome ArtBase are thoroughly and consistently indexed. In addition, the Rhizome ArtBase search interface is integrated with’s online library of over 1,500 articles about new media art. The largest resource of its kind, this text library provides a unique critical context for the artwork in the Rhizome ArtBase. So, for example, a search on the keyword “gender” currently returns eight art projects, by artists such as Prema Murthy and Guillermo Gomez-Pena, and 53 articles by members of the community such as Guggenheim curator Matthew Drutt.

The field of Internet art conservation is in its infancy, and the Rhizome ArtBase represents one of the first concerted efforts in this area. hopes to work closely with other institutions and associations to develop coordinated archival standards and practices for Internet art. Our goal for Museums and the Web 2000 is to share information and build relationships with other organizations working in this emerging field.

The Rhizome ArtBase Advisory Panel includes: Max Anderson,Whitney Museum of American Art; Tamas Banovich, Postmasters Gallery; Kathy Brew, Thundergulch; Hugh Davies, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Kathy Rae Huffman; John Ippolito, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; John Johnson, Eyebeam Atelier; Olia Lialina, and Mertz Academy; Barbara London, Museum of Modern Art; Roger Malina, Leonardo Journal; Lev Manovich, University of California San Diego; Robin Murphy, New York University; Debbie Silverfine, New York State Council on the Arts; Gerfried Stocker, Ars Electronica; Peter Weibel, ZKM Center for Art and Media; John Weber, SFMOMA; Benjamin Weil, SFMOMA. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization that connects and educates the public through its community-based email services, Web site and outreach events. Rhizome is the botanical term for a kind of stem that burrows underground, sending out shoots and roots. Rhizomes connect plants into living networks.’s programs and activities are focused on three goals: presenting the work of new media artists, critics and curators to the public; fostering communication and critical dialog about new media art; and preserving new media art for the future.