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 webpage 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....

Launch Project

splash art by Superbad, 1999
Ben Benjamin's Superbad is like a game without rules. As the user clicks through its labyrinthine ring, some transitions follow narrative logic, while others let the user decide how, if it all, the linked pages are connected. Superbad's visuals mix geometric digital drawings and sampled images. For Benjamin, a web designer, Superbad was both a junkyard and sketchpad of unused or potential ideas for commercial projects. His splash art for Rhizome recreates the texture of Superbad, with abstract patterns and found pictures meeting in dead-end interactivity: click on the bullets, and the content of a square in the upper right changes.