Rhizome Wins $600,000 Mellon Foundation Grant to Archive ‘Dynamic Web’

It's the biggest grant Rhizome has ever received.


Rhizome, the New York-based digital arts organization, has won a $600,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of Webrecorder, a tool that allows users to archive the “dynamic web.”

Rhizome says that the tool presents an improvement over current archiving software, which was built for a web that delivered documents such as HTML pages, whereas today’s Internet is built on dynamic pages like social media feeds.

“The things we create and discover and share online—from embedded videos to social media profiles—are often lost, or become unrecognizable with the passage of time,” says Rhizome artistic director Michael Connor in a press release. “Webrecorder, with its ability to capture and play back dynamic web content, and its emphasis on putting tools into users’ hands, is a major step towards addressing this, and improving digital social memory for all.”

You can check out an early version of Webrecorder at webrecorder.io.

Heading up the project will be lead developer Ilya Kremer. The Mellon Foundation support will also fund positions for a second software engineer, a design lead, and a project manager.

Rhizome has used a prototype to preserve some born-digital projects at webenact.rhizome.org, including works by Brian Droitcour, Constant Dullaart, Liam Gillick and Nate Silver, and Amalia Ulman.

The grant kicks off Rhizome’s 20th anniversary year, and is the largest grant the organization has ever received, far exceeding the second-largest, which was a $165,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, according to executive director Zachary Kaplan. Among the many other supporters of the organization, which is housed at the New Museum, are the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts.

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