25 Years of V2_

By Alex Adriaansens, director V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media

The past 25 years the field of tension between society and technology has been the context of the research in art (aRt&D) that V2_ carries out. As I think about V2_’s 25-year past and its future, Lutz Dammbeck’s film The Net comes to mind. This documentary about the relationship between science and art calls to mind a number of developments that have also been of concern to V2_. It looks at the euphoria around technology, which was expected to create new freedoms, as well as doomsday scenarios like those contained in the manifesto of the Unabomber. The Net also analyzes the role in this history of scientists like Norbert Wiener and Heinz von Foerster and artists like John Cage, Wolf Vostell and Nam June Paik. The film spurred me to reread V2_’s “Manifesto for the Unstable Media” (1987), that formulated its vision of instability as a factor in art, technology and society. The manifesto sheds light on how V2_ came to be what it is.

In 25 years, V2_ has evolved into an international, interdisciplinary place for experimentation and research where artists, scientists, media activists and hackers, academic research institutes and -- on a small scale -- business, have embarked on collaborative projects. Research, development, production and presentation strive for a mutual balance, supported by a growing range of V2_ publications. The themes V2_ has addressed over the years (“The Art of the Accident,” “Information is Alive,” “Open Systems,” “Interact or Die!”) have always concerned the innovative power of art and culture in our technological society. They were a guiding principle for V2_’s interdisciplinary activities and allow the linkage of different kinds of knowledge and practice. The underlying questions are always: what is the power of art and creativity; how does art take shape; what is its role; how does it see its relationship with the audience?

V2_ is a dynamic machine that absorbs forces and developments from outside, that adapts, and transforms itself, making choices out of intuition and experience. For V2_, too, Interact or Die! is an organization-shaping concept.

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