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February 21st 2005: Interview with Rachel Greene

[February 21st 2005]

Rachel Greene

Interview with Rachel Greene

Majken Kramer Overgaard interviews author, curator and net art critic Rachel Greene about herself, her book and her work with

As some of you might know, Internet Art by Rachel Greene, a part of the Thames & Hudson World of Art series, was published last year. It is a profound survey of various forms of internet art. The book takes us back to the first years of internet art and describes how the field emerged and what it has developed into in the past years. The book is meant as an introduction to internet art, because as Greene herself put it "I wanted to write the book because the Internet is still such an unfamiliar space for looking at and thinking about art".

Rachel Greene is Executive Director of She is educated at the universities of Pennsylvania and Sussex. Greene has been involved in promoting internet art since 1997, currently she is a curatorial fellow at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. is an online platform for new media art. It was founded in 1996 and it is a non-profit organization. They take their name from a botanical term for a horizontal, root-like stem that extends underground and sends out shoots to the surface. It represents the non-hierarchical form creates within the community. They cover a large field within new media art, they support creation, preservation, presentation and discussion of and about contemporary art. Among a lot of other things they provide a very good newsletter that covers the new media scene very well and their Artbase have many interesting works. Fall 2003 they formed an affiliation with the New Museum in New York, the museum provides office space and some administrative and development support for the organization.
I've asked Rachel Greene some questions about her (relatively) new book and her work at

I know you've studied literature, how and why did you get from that to internet art?
I have been interested in literature and art my whole life, but when I met Mark Tribe in 1997, I thought he was doing such fascinating, provocative work with Rhizome, that I wanted to be part of what he was doing. Mark and Rhizome were my introduction to net art and I have learned a lot from both!

What is your definition of net art?
I don't really work with strict definitions or find them particularly useful, but net art is work that addresses the internet with its content or formal arrangement, or is technically based on the internet and includes software, web sites, documentation, performance, email art, etc..

Why did you decide to write a book about net art at this moment?
Actually, most of the book was written in 2002. It was just published in 2004! I wrote the book because I was asked to do so by an editor and publishing house I really wanted to work with. I was honored to be asked by Andrew Brown at Thames and Hudson.
I was aware that writing a book about an ever-evolving field would be difficult, and that the Thames and Hudson World of Art format was also a specific structure to work within. It was really challenging to write about net art within those particular economies.

Could you describe net art's relationship to the physical art world, how does/doesn't net art relate/differ from the 'real' art world?
Clearly, net artists don't have as developed economies as do painters or sculptors, but I think in terms of institutional interest, net artists are reasonably well-positioned. For example, this year a virtual environment by Langlands and Bell was up for the Turner Prize, and I saw computer-based work at all the major art fairs I attended this past year. So I don't think the distances between net art and the official art world are still so marked. However, net art had and still has a real anti-commercial lobby, which should be honored and remembered when appropriate. The way net-based artwork can manifest anti-commercial and oppositional content is important and distinctive (for example, hacking or software art can be more confrontational and effective than analog work).

What is Rhizome today and could you describe how it has evolved from a mailing list to what it is today?
Rhizome evolved from a mailing list to include an archive of new media art, commissioning programs, exhibitions, and journalism.

How is Rhizome important for the net art scene?
Well, Rhizome has an archive, the largest of its kind, of new media artworks. That adds a certain kind of value and history to the field. More practically, artists can find exhibition and job opportunities via Rhizome.

What do you think is the future for Rhizome?
Redefinition, growth and change!

Which pieces would you include in a retrospective exhibition?
I would definitely include some work by artists such as, Vuk Cosic, Heath Bunting, Alexei Shulgin and Olia Lialina. Other classics are rtmark and Candy Factory.

Do you have a contemporary piece of net art you can recommend?
I think there is interesting software being produced at


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