Digital art organization Rhizome has been collecting internet-based art since 1996. This year, the organization will embark on one of its most ambitious projects: The Net Art Anthology, a 2-year staging of 100 influential digital artworks at the New Museum in New York City.
Net Art was born in the earliest days of the internet, and encompasses a range of digital art forms: video, imagery, and activist projects. Rhizome’s first staging will be 1991’s “A Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century,” feminist statement from Australia-based collective VNS Matrix designed to live exclusively on the web. The exhibit will also cycle through more well-known recent works, like Petra Cortright’s “VVEBCAM,” a performance recorded on YouTube in 2007.
Part of the challenge of collecting and presenting Net Art, according to Rhizome founder Mark Tribe, is the Internet’s ephemeral nature. “If somebody puts an oil painting in a closet for 5 years, it’ll come out looking pretty much the same,” said Tribe during a launch event for the exhibit. “With media art, the technology’s always changing.”