Rhizome’s key archive of born-digital art, the ArtBase, was initiated in 1999. Accepting open submissions which were lightly moderated, the ArtBase grew over the years to hold more than 2,200 artworks.
Since 2014, Rhizome’s preservation team under the direction of Dragan Espenschied has been working to re-implement the software infrastructure for this unique archive as part of a larger effort to develop better tools for accessing and understanding legacy digital culture. Today, we are unveiling the first phase of this major research project, with a relaunched ArtBase featuring new infrastructure, improved metadata and presentation, and a new accessioning process.
With the help of an NEH CARES grant, the ArtBase has been implemented in a new software infrastructure centered around Wikibase, an open-source data platform which is part of the Wikimedia application ecosystem. Wikibase uses Linked Open Data (LOD), a set of standards for structured, machine-readable, and interoperable data on the web. Rhizome’s custom Wikibase installation provides an opportunity to explore how archiving and preservation processes can benefit from LOD in a heterogeneous born-digital archive.
urthermore, the new LOD infrastructure, facilitated by Wikibase, enables users to pose new questions regarding ArtBase data—questions that go beyond keyword search or faceted categories. Users can access a dedicated SPARQL✨ query service with a graphical user interface to formulate complex questions concerning multiple data points in the archive, without requiring extensive data science skills. This service allows web users to query and visualize the data in real-time through a variety of visualization approaches, such as tables, image grids, charts, maps, and more. These visualizations can also become excellent ways to browse the archive and discover new artworks, as well as information about artworks, artists, and software. Dedicated tutorial materials and visual examples are developed to guide users through the new interfaces and services available in the ArtBase.
Direct to Rhizome ArtBase