Vladimir Kovacevic on Mon, 16 Feb 2004 19:23:20 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> One year After Rhizome

It is about a year ago that I started the website Afterrhizome as a
response to Rhizome politics. In the last year a lot of things
happened, so time for me to look back and evaluate. In the first place
we saw that "evil genius" Mark Tribe left the Rhizome ship and was
succeeded by Rachel Green. Second we saw Rhizome merge with the New
Museum (New York). In a press release by the "New Museum" it is called
"Rhizome.org will operate as an affiliate of the New Museum". But the
exact (practical) position of Rhizome in this whole merge stays
unclear. This is also the case for it's famous artbase that now seems
to fall under the responsability of the New Museum. Seems because it's
exact status is unclear. There are no documents online that carify
it's status. Nor were there held any serious online discussions about
it's status. This draws me to the conclusion that artists that are
participating in the Rhizome community just don't care about this
issue. For so far the leadership and legal issues.
Another point of critique is derived from a recent article Peter
Luining wrote for netartreview. Here Luining compares the
Computerfineart's collection with Rhizome's artbase. But where Luining
still sees something positive in Rhizome's artbase "Rhizome's artbase
offers a lot of additional information with it's linked artworks
[which is worth paying for]" I only can see negative points. This
because 1. you have to pay to get access to the artbase that is made
out of freely delivered content by it's participants, information that
in almost all cases can also be found with some googling for free 2.
the artbase is a collection of links that is subjected to rot. And why
would you pay for a service that is not even trying to preserve the
most interesting part, which is the artworks. Another point that I
missed in Luining's analysis is that of the status of the work. For
works at Rhizome I only can point to older information (see
http://www.geocities.com/afterrhizome/AfterRhizomeCritique.htm ),
while, from what I have understood, for the works that are hosted by
computerfinearts there is a clear contract. If we compare both it is
clear that at Rhizome the artist gives away a link (which is not
problematic) and information with the link that becomes property of
Rhizome (which can be seen is problematic), while at computerfinearts
you put up a work (and maybe some information) which is preserved with
all rights still belonging to the artist. This makes it clear that the
legal structure Rhizome is providing is not in favour of the artist.
My last point of critique is an argument I also stated a year ago and
which shows nothing has changed. While Rhizome continually seems in
need of money, because they need it so hard to keep the community
going, they are organizing competitions with big money rewards. This
year's competition theme is "games" (how orginally chosen) and offers
money rewards in the order of 1500 up till 3500 dollars.
So far the inherent critique of Rhizome. Now to the practical
situation. Though Rhizome seemed to have survived it is not the
Rhizome from before the great changes anymore. If I take a look at the
frontpage I see especially a lack of quality articles by respected or
talented writers. And also the works that get into the artbase lack in
a lot of cases relevance to any net.art community or net.art as a
whole. Rhizome has become a sort of Disney looking site attracting
people that go for a brandname instead of doing some search for
themselves, because there are free and in some cases even better
alternatives. So what about these alternatives. An interesting
alternative to Rhizome seems to be the ever developing site of
furherfield. Over the last year we saw it's content and participants
multiplying and multiplying. Because it's structure is more or less
open source participants don't have to fear for Rhizome like
situations (that is that you have to pay to get to your own content).
That said there are other sides that are developing and doing great as
for example the German theoretical Betacity site that keeps delivering
great writings. Another interesting site that seems to keep on going
strong is Netartreview, that is putting out a lot of interesting items
weekly. But not everything mentioned in my link list is doing so well.
An example of this is the net-art.org portal site, though recently
there seems to be some activity again, new items just seem to pop up
only 2 times a month and that's just too little for a portal. A great
miss and probably the greatest miss for the net.art community is the
dissapearance of Dr. Reinhold Grether net.art links, that was by far
the largest collection of net.art links on the web.

Vladimir Kovacevic


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