The September issue of Art in America magazine features MFA Fine Arts Department Chair and MFA Art Practice Department faculty member Mark Tribe responding to questions about Rhizome’s evolving role in the digital age, the institutionalization of new media art and ethical concerns related to the Internet’s popularization.
Rhizome, the flourishing online platform Tribe designed in 1996, continues to serve as the primary resource for various new media art communities as it successfully generates Internet culture-related content, network aesthetics information and contemporary art. With over 2,000 works in the ArtBase archive, a commissioning program, job postings and editorials, Rhizome maintains its status as the leader in Net art preservation standards.
In Art in America, Tribe reveals a desire for the online platform to develop with the times while “staying true to its core principles of inclusiveness and transparency.” When asked about the connection between the institutionalization of new media art and Net artists’ early interests in collective authorship and anonymity, Tribe touched on the contextual significance of the Net for artists who sought out and required alternate modes of exposure.
“What was new, I think, was the Net offered artists an unprecedented opportunity to route around the institutional gatekeepers and connect directly with a global audience. Who needed museums, galleries, art magazines and biennials when you could just put up a website and instantly reach thousands of people in dozens of countries?” While there has been a current surge in the acceptance of new media art in academia, Tribe maintains that, “there is still a deep-seated resistance to new media in the contemporary art world, particularly at the more commercially oriented end of the spectrum.”
Although Tribe no longer sees new media art as a movement, he asserts that the projects are very relevant and that works based only on the Web are still contemporary. He describes new media art as “another thread in the fabric of culture.”
While Tribe defines the term “Post Internet” as artists who “stand on the shoulders of net giants […] to crush the past and reassemble the fragments in strange on/offline hybrid forms,” the tone reveals hope for the period following the popularization of the Internet and the preservation of artworks originally created digitally. Rhizome plans to continue to expand internationally and prioritize conservation by upholding standards that influence the new media arts field and contemporary arts as a whole.