Net art is built and distributed through a complex, intricate, and interrelated system of networks that presents an assemblage of art, technology, politics, and social relations – all merged and related to form a variable entity. In the last decade a discussion on how to conserve net art emerged in museums of contemporary art. Nevertheless, many net art projects from the 1990s have long disappeared – their server payments lapsed, software was not kept up-to-date, or artists felt the concept was no longer appropriate in a changed context. The project mouchette.org is an exception in that the artist has kept the website up and running since it began. In this article I will show that net artworks are inherently assemblages that evolve over time. These works are distributed and ensured by networks of people; their continuation happens through multiple authors and caretakers. All together these actors signify and give meaning to the works. Therefore, instead of thinking of a ‘freeze frame’ the presentation and conservation of net art should focus on variability. This opens up different paths and options, making for conservation strategies akin to assembling traces.
Via Jacques Urbanska