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

The Cooker, 1998
Jake Tilson describes his work as a crossover of publishing, graphic design, and fine art. His splash page was inspired by the travels he undertook while writing and designing cookbooks. It is a moving collage of photographs from flea markets in Brussels, Paris, and New York. Each photograph shows wares laid out on the ground, shot from above, which forces a shift in the internet user's perspective from horizontal to vertical. Tilson's page focuses attention on commonplace objects as the constant shift between locations reflects the internet's capacity to condense and eliminate physical distance, still something of a novelty in 1998.