In January 2002, -empyre- soft-skinned space was launched by network artist, critic, and curator, Melinda Rackham (AU). -empyre- was conceived as a research forum for Rackham's PhD research at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW, Australia. Structured as an experimental peer arena, the community grew exponentially and within the first year Adrian Miles (AU) and Rebecca Cannon (AU) joined briefly as facilitators. Long-term facilitators Christina McPhee (US) and Michael Arnold Mages (US) were invited to the -empyre- curatorium soon after, and during the next years they were joined by Jim Andrews (CA) and Felix Sattler (AU/GER). In 2005 Tracey Meziane Benson (AU) and Marcus Bastos (BR) joined the team. In 2006 and 2007 it was extended with Sérgio Basbaum (BR), Renate Ferro (USA) and Tim Murray (USA) who now serve as the list's managing moderators. Nicholas Ruiz III (USA) also served on the -empyre- moderating team for a brief tenure. Currently along with Ferro and Murray Simon Biggs and Patrick Lichty have been part of the moderating team.
The -empyre- global community has supported several special projects over its nine-year history. It was featured as part of documenta 12's Magazine Project conducting three moderated conversations in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, -empyre- collaborated with the Anderson Art Ranch in Snowmass, Colorado to offer two Presidential Full Merit Scholarships to members of the -empyre- community. -empyre- also has collaborated with institutions and festivals to produce dynamic online forums for physically located events. Some of those events have included the Cornerhouse in Manchester, Marcos Weskamp's Social Circles visualization slice of the list dynamics. In 2008 -empyre- co-hosted a special conference with City Light Books on Paul Virilio in San Francisco, In 2009, a special panel on "viral marketing" was hosted by Exit Art in New York City. In 2010 a discussion held around The Making Sense Colloquium at the Centre Pompidou, Paris was sponsored by -empyre-. And in the fall of 2011 -empyre- hosted a networking event at the annual ISEA (International Symposium for Electronic Arts) in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2012, artist Warren Sack provided a visual map of -empyre- conversations from January 1-14 June, 2010, as part of his "Conversation Map" project.