For millennia, people have created art — in media ranging from paint on cave walls to metal or stone sculpture to computer-generated images, sound and motion. In recent years, many have made an effort to digitize physical art in an effort to preserve it for future generations and make it accessible to a wider audience. And many contemporary artists have produced creative works using digital media, to be experienced completely online. Yet while the cave paintings in Lascaux are an incredible 20,000 years old, it isn’t clear whether digitized images of that art — or any digital art created today — will last 20 years, let alone 20,000.
That’s because digital art requires readers and, often, software in order to to be viewed, heard or experienced. And as software, browsers, and files either update versions or become obsolete, both digital art — art produced by means of computers and software — and digitized art — reproduced or copied art, rendered in digital form from original physical media — are at risk of disappearing.
It's a very real problem. It’s with this in mind that Google Arts & Culture has partnered with Rhizome to help in the preservation of digital art. Rhizome grew out of the blossoming web-artist community of the mid-1990s, and is now a thriving nonprofit in New York City.