Beyond a href: Preserving Flash-driven Art

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As Digital Preservation Fellow with Rhizome, my work has focused on archiving works of net art from the live web into the ArtBase.  Net art, despite the benefits of being abstract - it rarely gets moldy! - is built on exceptionally fragile media.  A server failure, domain shift, or missing file is enough to effectively destroy a work of art.  As such, to properly preserve the pieces in the ArtBase, I work alongside Ben Fino-Radin to crawl, download, and adjust works for hosting in our archive.  The scope of the ArtBase - from hypertext experiments to Twitter-fed visualizations - brings me in contact with an array of technologies, media, and unexpected use cases.  While nearly every work of net art in the ArtBase founded on HTML, most go beyond it: embedded multimedia is very frequently used for a variety of purposes and effects.  As such, developing a system to download and preserve complex media objects is of tremendous importance to my work.

One of the most common multimedia formats used in the ArtBase is Flash, dating back to its origins with FutureWave and through its development by Macromedia and Adobe.  Of the myriad formats used in the ArtBase’s collection, SWF is the most prevalent and deeply used multimedia filetype: over a third of the archived works are founded on it.  Its combination of power (few formats offer its combination of browser-driven multimedia and interactivity) and ubiquity on audience machines made it the obvious choice for artists looking to go beyond the HTML and JavaScript-driven net art of the late 1990s. Hence, working with Flash is greatly important to Rhizome’s preservation mission.

Splash screen, Inflat-O-Scape (2001)

SWF, as a format, presents a number of challenges for art conservators and archivists.  As a binary format, it cannot be immediately parsed by text-friendly tools (such ...

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Kota Ezawa: City of Nature

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Kota Ezawa, City of Nature, 2011.

The artist Kota Ezawa meticulously transforms found footage from television, cinema, and art history into simplified two dimensional vector-based animations. In City of Nature, a video commission for Madison Square Art currently installed in Madison Square Park, Ezawa appropriates and deconstructs excerpts from popular films including Jaws, Fitzcarraldo, Deliverance, and Brokeback Mountain. Removing all human presence, Ezawa concentrates on nature as the work's subject, and its relationship with our visual representation of it. Decontextualized and stripped of any narrative content, the film clips are recognizable, yet untraceable, emphasizing the pervasive and subconscious influence of popular visual media on our collective unconscious. The installation of the four screens in the center of the park's natural but constructed environment further accentuates the dichotomy of real and artificial landscapes.

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goodbye farewell .com (2011) - Rafaël Rozendaal

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Garbage Flowers (2010) - Tara Sinn

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States (2010) - Laurel Schwulst

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HTML5 and Actionscript experiments by Mr.doob

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Water - 01

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Anaglyph Render

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Cluttered Desk

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Zoom blur - 03

For more, visit Mr.doob.

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into time .com (2010) - Rafaël Rozendaal

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Trash Talking (2006) - Paper Rad

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Via UbuWeb

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Required Reading

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Angelo Plessas, TheHistoryOfADecadeThatHasNotYetBeenNamed.com (still), 2007

Greek-Italian artist Angelo Plessas’ interactive websites (Angeloplessas.com) integrate elements of drawing, sound, Flash animation and innovative HTML coding. Each of his online two-dimensional “sculptures” is sealed with a domain name that playfully evokes the language of philosophy, literature and drama. Challenging concepts of space and ownership on the Internet, Plessas’ websites are, like graffiti bombed on a public wall, the acts of a guerrilla artist intervening in public space.

Plessas has come a long way since his first and ongoing aesthetic project: documenting face-like compositions he discovers in random configurations of objects and architecture (InternationalPortraitGallery.com). He officially launched his artistic career in 2001 when artist and curator Miltos Manetas selected his work for the Internet-inspired group show Biennale.net at Deitch Projects, New York. Now, the artist is exploring projects that take on a curatorial scope, including the recent one-day video projection extravaganza Bring Your Own Beamer at the Kunsthalle Athena.

With the lines between his online and offline work becoming increasingly blurred, Plessas is evolving in the manner of his medium. As the Internet expands, so does Plessas’ practice, and as the artist matures, perhaps he might shed light on where the Internet might take us. Sitting at his seaside apartment in Athens, Plessas takes me on a journey through his virtual universe, which ultimately leads right back to reality itself…whatever that might be, or could become.

-- FROM THE INTRODUCTION TO "ANGELO PLESSAS: LIFE THROUGH A WEB BROWSER" BY STEPHANIE BAILEY IN ART LIES, ISSUE 67

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Interactive Kaleidoscope (2009) - Skymonk

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Originally via TRIANGULATION BLOG

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