V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media
V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media, or simply V2_, is an interdisciplinary center for art and media technology in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It has been singularly important at researching and developing art projects at the interface of art, technology and society.
V2_ presents, produces, archives and publishes about art made with new technologies and encourages the debate on these issues. V2_ is a platform where artists, scientists, developers of software and hardware, researchers and theorists from various disciplines can share their findings. In V2_'s view, art and culture play an essential role in the social embedment and attitude towards technological developments, and created a context in which technological issues are explored through critical reflection and practice-oriented research.
V2_ organizes public lectures, exhibitions, workshops and presentations. These events present V2_'s research, showcase related developments in media art, and function as a platform for debate, offering artists an opportunity to present new work to an audience and exchange ideas with other artists, researchers and technicians. Since 2011, V2_ distributes artworks through the V2_Agency.
Scientists, artists researchers, theorists and organizations that have collaborated with V2_ include: Stelarc, Orlan, Symbiotica, Dick Raaymakers, Michel Waisvisz, Francisco López, Brian Massumi, Manuel de Landa, Paul Virilio, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Knowbotic Research, Rem Koolhaas.
Mission & History
As described in the 1987 Manifesto for the Unstable Media, art which applies electronic media - especially digital or unstable media - reflects upon and takes into account the meaning, idiosyncrasies and boundaries of such media. In this process, instability is a creative force that is essential to the continuous re-ordering of the social/cultural, political and economic relations in society. Instead of providing us with an orderly, homogeneous worldview, unstable media present an image of a world that is inconsistent, heterogeneous, complex and variable.
V2_ is interested in the relationships and interactions between different media and in the relationship between art and scientific disciplines. The connections between art, technology, media and society are continuously explored, by bringing together artists, scientists and civil organizations and by initiating interdisciplinary collaborations. Over the past 20 years V2_ has succeeded in establishing an ongoing dialogue within a wide network of contacts that contributes to the development of specific (art) projects for research and presentation.
V2_ was founded in 1981 as an artist collective. A squat in the Vughterstraat 234 (short: V2_) in 's-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, accommodated artists from various disciplines. The founding members, including Alex Adriaansens and Joke Brouwer, named it a multimedia center. The building gave room for concerts and performances and experiments with analogue media, like TVs, loudspeakers and Super-8 film. It also included an exhibition space for (wall) paintings, installations and machine art. Bands like Sonic Youth, Einstürzende Neubauten and Laibach performed at V2_ in the early days. It was a do-it-yourself period, where music, video, sound and visual arts were combined and the artists took the arts to the street.
Unstable Media: 1987-1993
The mid-1980s brought a turning point, not only for V2_, but for a lot of artists' initiatives in the Netherlands. At the time, V2_ began transforming itself from a multimedia organisation into a center for art and media technology. Because of dissatisfaction with the art practice of the day, the "Manifesto for Unstable Media" was issued by V2_ in 1987. It was intended to really ruffle the feathers of the visual arts. The Manifesto laid down the theoretical principles of V2_, also known since that time as the Institute for the Unstable Media. Though an historical document, most of what is in the Manifesto is still crucial for the work of the organization.
In the next years, V2_ organized a number of "Manifestations for the Unstable Media," which focused on the use of new technology and electronic media in the audiovisual arts. The festival showed interactive video and sound installations and experimented with robotics and the use of computers for generating electronic music and digital imagery. By organizing public events and publishing books, V2_ also stimulated the debate on art, theory, technology and society.
Network and Communications Media: 1993-1998
In 1994, V2_ moved to its current location in the center of Rotterdam, and since then concentrated on art in electronic networks and communications media, like the World Wide Web. Initially, artists only worked with text within the relatively small computer networks, but soon computer and telecommunication networks (ISDN) enabled them to work with sound and images. Artist began to explore the possibilities of computers as an artistic medium, using digital techniques, virtual reality and 3D projections to immerse users in cyberspace. During that time, V2_ developed itself into a professional organisation with an international network of contacts and Manifestation of the Unstable Media changed into the biannual Dutch Electronic Art Festival, where V2_'s network of artists, scientists and organisations from different disciplines could meet.
Art and Media Technology: 1998-present
The opening of the V2_Lab, an international media laboratory, in May 1998 meant an extension of V2_'s practices towards art production, research and knowledge exchange. In V2_'s interdisciplinary workspace, national and international artists, scientists and technicians collaborate on electronic art projects and technical research projects, for example hardware or open source software development. The often long-term research projects focus on the use of new technical possibilities for artistic means, research on the cultural and social implications of these techniques and the development of technically innovative (web) applications. They have resulted in software tools, but also in mixed media applications and interactive installations in public space. Apart from that, V2_ also organizes workshops and expert meetings to exchange knowledge and experiences with other professionals.
V2_Publishing connects practice and theory, and links disciplines such as sociology, architecture, media theory, biology and technological innovation. These books about art, new media and media theory are used in universities, colleges, polytechnics and art academies.
- Dick Raaymakers: A Monograph, 2008
- The Architecture of Continuity, 2008
- Interact or Die!, 2007
- aRt&D, 2005
- Feelings Are Always Local, 2004
- Understanding Media Theory, 2004
- My First Recession, 2003
- Making Art of Databases, 2003
- Information Is Alive, 2003
- TransUrbanism, 2002
- Machine Times, 2000
- Book for the Electronic Arts, 2000
- The Art of the Accident, 1998
- TechnoMorphica, 1997
- Interfacing Realities, 1997
- Book for the Unstable Media, 1992
The V2_Lab is a place for artistic research and development, where generic technical solutions that are relevant to the fields of art and culture are developed. The results are published and made available under open-source licenses whenever possible. In V2_ projects, artists, technicians and scientists work together to develop technology for specific artworks. Additionally, V2_Lab offers technical and productional support to artists working with new technologies.
- WORM, experimental music venue, art space and hack space adjacent to the building of V2_ (Boomgaardstraat).