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...