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Splashback: Rhizome’s Splash Pages, 1998-2002

Splashback: Rhizome’s Splash Pages, 1998-2002


Splash art originated in the 1940s in comics, where the term referred to a full page of visuals at the front of a book. Pages were designed to engage the reader’s imagination along the lines of the comic’s broader concept, while standing independent from the narrative. In the late 1990s, when the widespread use of the application Flash opened up new possibilities for animation and interactive media, the idea of the splash page migrated to web design. Online splash art brought visual excitement to a web page when low modem speeds made it impractical to post large or moving images amid a site’s textual content.

Rhizome introduced splash pages to its web site in 1998 in order to display artwork with greater immediacy. Splash art occupied the entire browser window, and the works were not indexed by prefaces, links, and thumbnails as art usually was on Rhizome and other sites. When the artwork appeared, the only clue to its authorship was in an extension of Rhizome’s URL, a structural necessity that also served a community-building function. Not only did the splash project create a more direct platform for showcasing work, it also defined a circle of artists by connecting their name to Rhizome’s in the location bar and forging a direct bond between their art and Rhizome’s home page. 

Rhizome discontinued the use of splash pages 2002. As the staff implemented a new design for the site, they decided the splash pages were an unnecessary obstacle to reaching the home page—a choice in tune with the zeitgeist as pop-up functionality plagued the web. But the recent move to organize and present this piece of Rhizome’s past in “Splashback” was made with the awareness that the original reason behind the splash project—the desire to put the art up front—is an impulse that continues to shape Rhizome’s presence online today.

Artists include:  Annie Abrahams, Daniel Garcia Andujar, Ben Benjamin, heath bunting, Gregory Chatonsky, Shu Lea Cheang, Andrew Childs, Curt Cloninger, David Crawford, Mark Daggett, Joshua Davis, entropy8zuper, Andrew Forbes, Valery Grancher, Matthew Hoessli, Olia Lialina, David Lindeman, jimpunk, JODI, Yael Kanarek, Lucas Kuzma, Antonio Mendoza, Mouchette, MTAA, Robbin Murphy, Nettmedia, Scott Paterson, Pavu, Waldemar Pranckiewicz, Reinis, Satellite01, Sigma6, Starry Night, Eugene Thacker, Jake Tilson, Maciej Wisniewski, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries

“Splashback” is organized by Brian Droitcour, Rhizome Curatorial Fellow.
Site built by Elise Roedenbeck, Technology Assistant.

About Rhizome
Rhizome is dedicated to the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging artistic practices that engage technology. Our programs, many of which happen online, include commissions, exhibitions, events, discussion, archives and portfolios. We support artists working at the furthest reaches of technological experimentation as well as those responding to the broader aesthetic and political implications of new tools and media.

Rhizome’s public programs are supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency, and The Rockefeller Foundation’s NYC Cultural Innovation Fund.