Search Museum of the Moving Image


Under Construction

Dec 4, 2012 — Feb 24, 2013

Location: Hearst Lobby

Organized by Jason Eppink, Associate Curator of Digital Media

Under Construction presents 322 animated GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) files culled from millions of personal websites hosted by GeoCities, a service that provided free web hosting from 1994 until 2009. When GeoCities was founded, household internet access was just starting to become mainstream; by 1999, GeoCities was the third-most visited site on the web.

The 90s web was a rapidly expanding “information superhighway” built by its many new users. Construction-related images and animations like signs, cones, barriers, and tools became a popular way for these users to communicate that their website was not finished yet. Soon this imagery came to stand for a philosophy that a well-maintained, regularly updated website was never truly finished. Eventually, though, these images littered so many abandoned websites that their presence became something of a joke.

After Yahoo! announced it would terminate GeoCities in 2009, archivist and technology historian Jason Scott led the Archive Team, a digital preservation collective, in a six-month effort to download as much of the site as possible. The resulting archive amounted to nearly one terabyte of data. To demonstrate the breadth of the material the team rescued, Scott searched for GIFs that contained “construct” in their filename and published the animations on view.