The New York–based arts organization Rhizome, which focuses on the preservation and promotion of digital-born and digital-based art, announced today that it has received a $600,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fully fund its Webrecorder archiving tool.
Webrecorder, which is currently in beta, allows users to digitally archive the interactions, photos, and interface of websites, particularly those that use complex, Java-based software, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, making it ideal for storing online and social media–based artworks.
The online initiative is the brainchild of developer Ilya Kreymer, who previously worked on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Rhizome, which has been involved in preserving net art since 1999, when it created its ArtBase archive, began collaborating with Kreymer on the Webrecorder last year. With the grant money, Kreymer, who is based in San Francisco, will join Rhizome as a full-time staff member. The grant, which is the largest in the nonprofit’s history, will also fund the hiring of a second software engineer, a design lead, and a project manager to round out the conservation team, led by Rhizome’s digital conservator, Dragan Espenschied.
“Right now, digital preservation is out of the reach of most people. They don’t have control,” Rhizome’s executive director, Zachary Kaplan, told ARTnews. “People hear the phrase ‘digital preservation,’ and they think about artwork made in the ’90s, but actually we’re preserving work that’s being made today, that’s at risk of being lost as soon as it’s live.”