After VVORK: How (and why) we archived a contemporary art blog


Screenshot of VVork post from April 2006, as archived by Rhizome.

Today, Rhizome unveils a new archive of the contemporary art blog VVork (2006-2012), in which we demonstrate a novel solution to the problem of conserving websites with embedded videos.

VVork makes a useful test case for our digital conservation efforts because it presents one relatively narrow but difficult set of problems to solve. That is, when videos are embedded in a website, they are generally hosted on a third-party platform (on YouTube, for example); this means they may be deleted or taken down, sometimes for "inappropriate" content. But saving these videos into an archive creates problems for most scraping tools, especially when a video is used in many different contexts, as when the same video appears on multiple tag pages. The way these platforms select and serve the video files makes it difficult to have all embeds of the same video point to a single archival copy.

To address these issues, Rhizome's Digital Conservator Dragan Espenschied used Colloq, a tool for creating contextual archives that was developed by Rhizome in partnership with Ilya Kreymer in 2014. (The service builds on Kremer's pywb tools; you can read up on the technical details of of capturing the web video here.) Colloq offers a robust solution for this long-standing issue; with VVork as a test case, we have created a stable archive of the site including nearly all embedded video.


Big Data, Little Narration


This is a mixture of manuscript and transcript of my keynote/closing lecture at Digital Preservation 2014, July 23rd in Washington, DC, held by the Library of Congress.


Index of Rhizome Today for August


Rhizome Today is an experiment in ephemeral blogging: posts written and published each morning, and unpublished within a day. The latest post can always be found at

After some discussion about the best way to wrap up each month's posts, we've decided to publish a list of topics and people covered on Today during the preceding month. Here is the index for Rhizome Today in August, 2014. 


  • Amazon (8-Aug, 11-Aug, 26-Aug)
  • ARE.NA (20-Aug)


Digital Preservation Community, This One's for You: Donate Today


Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied, Once Upon, 2012

Rhizome is a nimble organization that is passionate about the impact we can make in the field of digital preservation—yet the work we do exists outside the funding structures of higher education or institutional research. We think organizations like ours play an important role in the ecosystem of the digital preservation community. If you believe this too, please support us.

A message from Dragan Espenschied: 

I was appointed Rhizome's new Digital Conservator in January, and though I've not even started yet, I've had a lot of encouraging feedback. People are enthusiastic about what this organization can do for the field of digital preservation.


I (No Longer) Have a Web Site: Access, Authenticity, and the Restoration of GeoCities


"I Have a Website." JPEG version of screenshot from One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op.

One year ago, a system developed by artists Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied began taking screenshots of now-defunct GeoCities webpages from the late 1990s as they would appear on hardware and software from that time. Every twenty minutes, a new screenshot is automatically uploaded to their Tumblr, One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age Photo Op. Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the project; to celebrate, Espenschied restored the three most reblogged and liked home pages posted there, as tracked by Lialina. This article covers the why and how of this restoration.

It may seem strange to say this about the likes of "Cute Boy Site" or "Divorced Dads Page," but the remains of the GeoCities web hosting service are a vital part of our cultural legacy. In its dial-up heyday, GeoCities was where non-specialist internet users made their first-ever webpages. Today, it exists as a vast, if partial, repository of the anxieties, hopes, and dreams of those creators, and offers a snapshot of the early popular usage of a now-ubiquitous cultural form, the webpage.


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. 


'My Little Pony' is the Nearest I Can Get to LSD: UBERMORGEN on Teletext Art


Artist duo Ubermorgen are participating in the International Teletext Art Festival, which was recently profiled here on Rhizome. The following interview by Raffaela Kolb with Hans Bernhard of Ubermorgen was originally conducted for RCKSTR Magazine—viewable here—and has been translated and reprinted with permission.

UBERMORGEN, My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic (2013), Youtube comments translated to teletext, 24 text rows of 40 characters each.

RK: How did you and your partner get invited to the ITAF 2013?

UM: I have no idea. Somewhere, somehow, sometime, a person unknown to me, from Finland I believe, sent an email to one of the hundreds of UBERMORGEN email addresses. I also did not read the email, but just saw the words teletext, Finland, Switzerland (SRF), Austria (ORF), Germany (ARD) and art, and intuitively replied with "YES WE CAN"... It wasn't until much later that I read about all the bans: no pornography (although that is the best part of teletext), no advertising (shit! that would be the second best) and they can censor everything, if it doesn't suit them, i.e the organizers. Shit! I thought to myself, but then it was already too late... I then pinged my friend, Dragan Espenschied, of Bodenständig2000, who happens to be a big fan of [German synthpop duo] Modern Talking and has wanted to feature Thomas Anders with his Nora Ketterl on teletext for quite a while now... I then integrated a small reference into our piece... A fitting tribute to a great artist (DRX) and a great German band (Modern Talking).


The Voluptuous Blinking Art of Teletext


With its blocky, low-res graphics and clunky interaction, the television-based information retrieval system known as teletext seems out of place in today's world of touchscreens and flatscreen TVs. But in an excellent blog post on the history of teletext art posted Friday, Goto80 (aka Anders Carlsson) pointed out that the medium is still very much in use in several European countries. In fact, the iPhone and iPad app for Swedish teletext was one of the most popular iTunes downloads in that country 2011. And as Carlson writes, among the latter-day fans of the medium are numerous artists, from JODI to the participants in the 2006 Microtel project that inspired the title of this article to the participants of the second annual International Teletext Art Festival (through September 15).


New in the ArtBase: Twilight Screensaver (1991) for Atari TOS


There is a new addition to the ArtBase's collection that we are rather excited about: TwiLight (1991-1997), a screensaver for Atari TOS by Dragan Espenschied, Alvar Freude, and Peter Scheerer. There are two points to be excited about here: first, TwiLight now holds the crown of being the oldest piece of software in our collection. Second, Espenschied has amazingly completely reconstructed the screensaver's various modules as in-browser simulations, using the original graphics and HTML marquees. On the following page one can see what is a relatively accurate representation of the original software. If you'd like to run the original software in an Atari TOS compatable emulation (or vintage hardware), the orignal software can be download here: LZH (925 kb), ZIP (939 kb). 




If Facebook, Google Plus, and YouTube Were Built in 1997....


Three important contemporary web sites,
recreated with technology and spirit of late 1997,
according to our memories.

Best viewed with Netscape Navigator 4.03 and a screen resolution of 1024×768 pixels, running under Windows 95. We recommend using a Virtual Machine or appropriate hardware, connected to a CRT monitor. If such an environment unachievable, it should be possible to experience the piece with any browser that still supports HTML Frames. The transfer speed of our server is limited to 8 kB/s («dial-up» speed).

olia & dragan, December 2011