Today, the nonprofit digital arts organization Rhizome relaunched their website with the help of the New York division of the ad agency Wieden+Kennedy.
As the organization approaches their 20th year, “our website was beginning to not represent the kind of web that we were engaging with,” Zachary Kaplan, the executive director of Rhizome, told ARTnews today over the phone. “In the past five years, definitely, the social web and the way people consume information particularly on the web has changed so drastically.”
The leaner “art first” design—built by senior developer Matthew Conlen with support from developer Max Nanis—is no longer a reverse chronological blogroll but rather structured in the form of what Kaplan calls “curated selections of constellations of content meant to ease people into things we are interested in at the moment.”
Kaplan noted that a good portion of Rhizome’s readers get their content directly from social media or e-mail newsletters. Because of this, the new front page works more as a dashboard full of clusters (online exhibitions, text, events, etc.) that reflect where the organization’s head is at the moment, with trails back to their massive archive (currently on view: selections from Rhizome and the New Museum’s “First Look: New Art Online” series). In a press release, Rhizome states that it is their attempt at “breaking the harsh ambivalence of reverse chronology.”
Rhizome and Wieden+Kennedy have a history of working together. “[Wieden+Kennedy have] been longtime partners of Rhizome, supporters really beginning with the first Seven on Seven,” Kaplan said, referring to agency’s backing of Rhizome conference that pairs seven artists with seven folks from the tech world to create something over the course of a single day. The firm also redesigned Rhizome’s conceptual new logo, which begins with a serif’d typeface but over time will degrade and become abstracted.
“It’s so funny, I was going back reading this post from when Mark Tribe, our founder, redid the site in 2002,” Kaplan said, “and it was kind of interesting to look at because you saw how in 2002 Rhizome imagined itself as a proto-social network,” he continued. The new site, however is “recognizing people’s consumption habits have changed” and “presenting that in a less mediated way.”
“Above all the new platform is about creating context for viewing artworks,” Kaplan said.