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.
Espenschied is well known in the academic research field for projects such as bwFLA: Emulation as a Service, which allows legacy computer systems to run in a standard web browser. With Olia Lialina, he has also undertaken user-centered projects like One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age, an automatically-generated archive of screen captures of 1990s Geocities webpages; and Once Upon, an enactment of contemporary websites in a historic network environment. He has also published and spoken widely on vernacular uses of the web, such as in the book Digital Folklore, edited with Lialina.
With this role, Espenschied expresses a commitment to preserving works in the ArtBase while also contributing new research to the digital preservation field. About this appointment, Espenschied says: "I strongly believe that designing the access to complex legacy digital artifacts and systems is the largest contemporary challenge in digital culture. Digital culture is mass culture, and collection and preservation practices have to change to reflect this fact."
Espenschied will start in March 2014. In 2013, Rhizome's Digital Conservation Program, then under the leadership of Ben Fino-Radin, won the Archivists Round Table award for Innovative Use of Archives. Fino-Radin is now practicing in the Department of Conservation at MoMA.