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Collection: Hypertext

This Collection brings together works from the Rhizome ArtBase that show a range of artists' and writers' approaches to creating hypertext-driven works for the web, spanning nearly two decades. 

Hypertext is a nonlinear form of digital text that allows a user to choose their own pathway among multiple interconnected elements.

This nonlinear way of structuring texts or documents, first articulated in a nascent form by Vannevar Bush in 1945, has important implications for the practices of reading, writing, and social memory. As a result, hypertext has played a central role in the history of electronic literature, or e-lit, as well as net art and videogames. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, authoring programs such as Eastgate’s Storyspace and Macintosh's Hypercard allowed specialists and hobbyists alike to create their own hypertext literature. The rise of the web and HyperText Markup Language, or HTML, allowed browser-based hypertext works to reach wider audiences in the mid-1990s, while early net artists began to incorporate hypertext into their work. 

As the web increasingly shifted to platforms and social media rather than individually authored pages, hypertext works became less prevalent, but the rise of the user-friendly hypertext authoring software Twine in the early 2010s brought the format a new surge in popularity. Trans people, in particular, have embraced the genre, using it to challenge traditional narratives, model alternate social realities, and build empathy, and as a form of personal expression. 

Collection curated by Michael Connor and Lucas Pinheiro.