Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Arts


Art History


Sprengler, Christine


This thesis explores various challenges in the archiving of Internet Art, including accelerated obsolescence of technology, the ever-changing nature of the Internet and the environmental impacts of digital archives. Using the Solar Protocol Network, Morris Fox’s Vestiges and Remains, Rhizome’s ArtBase and the Pad.ma video archive, the author builds an argument towards the cultivation of collaborative networks in archiving alongside the use of low resolution images in the creation of reliable digital archives of Internet Art. This paper draws from the conservation approaches of Annet Dekker, Richard Rinehart and Jon Ippolito, as well as, the writings of Josephine Bosma and Hito Steyerl.

Summary for Lay Audience

In March of 2020, art institutions and DIY spaces in so-called Canada were forced to close their doors due to the life-altering effects of the coronavirus pandemic. With no clear answers to when the world might re-open, Internet artists formed speedy collaborations in response to the closure of art presentation spaces and institutions. Due in part to the nature of the medium, net artists and curators were the first to produce new works and respond to a global sense of dread, frustration, and unease. With this proliferation of new fully digital projects, there are also growing concerns about how the legacy of these vital projects will be protected for future generations. These projects are fully virtual, and so they must be archived digitally in order to respect the nature of their original context. However, the cultivation of a reliable and sustainable digital archive is rife with pitfalls— is the software reliable? Is it an environmentally sustainable model? This paper advocates for a new strategy in Internet Art conservation that incorporates a collaborative case by case approach to archiving each artwork, alongside the use of low resolution images, in order to imagine a digital archive which is independent, reliable and environmentally sustainable.