Institute for the Unstable Media
an interdisciplinary center for art and media technology in Rotterdam
Media and technology play an increasingly important role in contemporary society. Communications, production, trade, urbanism, medicine are all being changed by the same technological developments that are transforming the arts. Art that makes use of electronic, especially digital or 'unstable' media, explores the meaning, the specificity and the boundaries of these media. Instability is a creative force which is fundamental to the continuous reorganization of the social, cultural, political and economic relations in our society but which can also be regarded as a deregulating force that disrupts existing social structures. Rather than showing us an orderly and homogeneous world, unstable media present us with an image of the world that is contradictory, heterogeneous and transient.
Den holländska organisationen V2_ har alltsedan starten 1981 inkluderat en mängd olika konstnärliga aktiviteter i sin verksamhet. Från ljud, över video, multimedia och scenkonst till bok- och skivhandel och ett teknologiskt laboratorium för konstnärer inom electronic art media. En viktig del av verksamheten utgörs också av det webbaserade nätverk V2_ byggt upp mellan liknande organisationer runt om i Europa. Flera av organisationens medlemmar har genom åren gästat Fylkingen, men det är först i samband med festivalen Stardust som organisationen ges en bredare presentation för en svensk publik. För att förtydliga bilden passar samtidigt på att publicera följande information kring V2_´s omfattande aktiviteter.

V2_Organisation was founded in 1981 by a group of multi-media artists in Hertogenbosch, The Netherlands. Since 1987 it has focused on the presentation of international developments in machine art and electronic and media art. In 1994, V2_Organisation moved to its current location in the center of Rotterdam and since then has also concentrated on art in electronic networks and on the World Wide Web. V2_ is interested in the combination of and relations between different media and between different artistic and scientific disciplines. It consistently pursues its research about the relationship between art, technology, the media and society by bringing together artists, researchers, social groups and commercial companies, and by initiating interdisciplinary working relations among them. Over the past fifteen years, V2_ has thus created a continuous dialogue with a wide
network of contacts on which it draws for the development of particular art projects. V2_ offers a critical perspective on the futuristic promises associated with new media technologies and functions as a platform for debate about the production, distribution and presentation of the art of unstable media.

Unstable media force us to think of art as something that is always in flux: the dynamic result of collaborations between artists, programmers, engineers, designers and others. The V2_Lab is a workplace for artists, scientists and technicians emphasizing the encounter and exchange between different disciplines. Main areas of the V2_Lab´s aRt&D are: Interactivity and Alternative Interfacing, Wearable Technology, Virtual Reality, Multi-user Environments, GroupWare, Open Source software, Broadcast-quality Video and VR Experimentation. Beside non-industrial commissions and self-initiated projects the V2_Lab offers artist-in-residence places and gives technical and production support to artists in their research and the realisation of projects.

Applying technology and developing software within art projects is an important addition to existing ´R&D´. Art concepts often imply demands on (dys)functionality that require technological research that differs from that aimed at purely pragmatic and comfort-oriented applications. The complexity of digital technologies implies the necessity of collaboration between specialists from different fields with the aim of fostering creative research in the design of media technologies. Various
models (workshops, expert meetings, long-term research groups, etc.) have been developed for the V2_Lab´s activities, focusing on the exchange and combination of know-how and building an interdisciplinary workplace for artists as creative researchers.
The V2_Lab forms part of the European EncART network of media labs which focuses on sharing knowledge and experience and on joint translocal production and presentation.

V2_Events showcase contemporary media art and culture in public exhibitions, lectures, presentations and performances. V2_ presents a variety of events aimed at the general public as well as at artists, researchers and special interest groups. The most recent developments in the intersecting fields of art, media and technology are presented in exhibitions of installations, workshops, symposia, conferences, performances, and presentations of WWW and CD-ROM projects, as well as special projects at locations elsewhere in Rotterdam. In these presentations, V2_ frequently collaborates with institutes inside and outside of Rotterdam, participating online and on-site in festivals like the Rotterdam September Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam´s Exploding Cinema program, and the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz (Austria).
The V2_Events program has an overall theme throughout the year and covers a wide variety of media and technologies in relation to their social and cultural context: from Virtual Reality and nano-technology to computer networks and mass media. Beside the Dutch Electronic Art Festival, V2_ has been presenting an increasing number of exhibitions and many one-off events, including the Wiretap series, a monthly program of lectures, artists´
presentations and performances that counts among the most consistent showcases of media-cultural issues in Europe.

The V2_Store offers sound, image and text productions from contemporary media culture, on-site and online. The Store (formerly the V2_Archief) sells books, magazines, CDs, CD-ROMs, videos, floppies, and other media formats providing rich reading, listening and viewing experiences as accompaniment, as background and foreground to other V2_ activities.
The V2_Store is specialized in books on media and art, philosophy and politics. Its selection covers cyber culture, fringe culture, performance, hackers as well as architecture, Internet politics and contemporary art. The music varies from electronic listening, experimental dance, post rock, electronic and classical compositions to noise and industrial, with a focus on experimental work. For the last 15 years, the V2_Store has brought the necessary and the obscure in electronic and media culture to the attention of the curious. It now has one of the largest selections of media culture related material in Europe. Since 1999, the complete catalogue of the Store has been available on the WWW where it can be consulted for free and used for online shopping. The Store itself is open in Rotterdam on a regular basis please check the site or call for details.

The Dutch Electronic Art Festival, is an international and interdisciplinary bi-annual festival organized by V2_Organisation in Rotterdam. DEAF presents an exhibition of interactive installations, WWW-sites, CD-ROMs and live performances, seminars, workshops
and an academic symposium. The event brings together a varied group of visitors, artists and critics from home and abroad and attracts a growing and diversifying audience.
DEAF has established itself as one of the major European media art events. It is a showcase for recent, in part specially commissioned artwork, as well as a forum for critical debate. By collaborating with local, national and international art and research institutes the festival creates synergies between different art disciplines and fields like robotics, architecture, bio-technology or economics.

Each festival has a specific theme which structures the program of the event:
DEAF 94: Generated Nature
DEAF 95: Interfacing Realities
DEAF 96: Digital Territories
DEAF 98: The Art of the Accident
DEAF 00: Time Machines

DEAF 2000 will be presented in November 2000 in Rotterdam, 14 - 26 November (main festival week: 14-19 nov).
This international and interdisciplinary festival presents an exhibition of interactive art, selected WWW-sites, live performances, lectures and artist presentations, workshops and an academic symposium. DEAF 2000 will have its own special website and will be accompanied by a book publication dealing with the festival theme, Machine
DEAF 2000 deals with the theme of ´Machine Times´. The festival will take a close look at the role which time plays in the constitution of our technological reality. Machine Time - Body Time - Realtime. Temporal structures are built into technological apparatuses, from chronometers and industrial machines, to the frequencies of radios and computers. Time is also an essential part of our natural existence, our bodies being time machines in themselves, with biological cycles and cellular aging mechanisms. In architecture there is a growing understanding that space is constituted by movement in time.
The ever-increasing processing speeds of digital systems bring reality and its technological mediation closer and closer together: the prospect of simultaneity, the interaction of the actual and the virtual, the confrontation of physical reality and digital simulation in Realtime. DEAF 2000 investigates the way in which time is built into technological and social systems, and presents artistic approaches to dealing with time, with its manipulation, negation and elimination.

V2_ regularly publishes books, catalogues and CDs that document, complement and contextualize V2_´s activities and research projects.
In 1991, V2_ published the Book for the Unstable Media as one of the first books in the Netherlands that dealt with the relationship between art and media technologies. Besides the catalogues accompanying the DEAF festivals, V2_ publications include books about the relationship between notions of interface and cyberspace (Interfacing Realities, 1997), the merging of the biological and the technological (TechnoMorphica, 1997), or the role of
chance and friction in technological systems (The Art of the Accident, 1998).

In these interdisciplinary projects not only is the subject matter approached from different perspectives, but through elaborate editing and design the textual and visual contributions clash, twist and morph, and thus are forced into states of instability out of which new combinations and new ideas may arise.

V2_ has supported the publication of Nettime´s README!, a critical text compilation about Internet culture. It was also involved in the Virtual Platform's edition ´New Media Culture in Europe´, about practical and policy aspects of independent media culture. V2_ is planning to publish more frequent and smaller editions that document and reflect on V2_Events and related topics.

The V2_Store publishes its own series of music and sound art CDs and collaborates with other publishers in issuing new releases in noise art and experimental electronic music.

The V2_Website is a rich and dynamic online resource about art, technology and society. V2_Organisation created its first website in 1994 and has since regarded it as one of V2_´s key activities. Praised for its wealth of information and recognizable design, the site has been one of the main international public resources for the field of art and new technologies and is becoming more and more a source for research in this expanding field.
The new web interface (launched in late 2000) provides
a flow of information from a database and offers multiple entries into the maze of materials collected online. The website integrates the different branches of V2_, covering everything from information on activities and Events, the V2_Store, the V2_Lab and the online V2_Archive of photo, video and audio material. The different parts of the database are dynamically linked, providing the web-user with different ways to browse the site or to find what they are looking for, as well as with unexpected, machinically generated associations.
The V2_ website presents projects targeted at online audiences, including educational programs and participatory art projects. It also hosts an extensive online environment that supports the V2_ office. A FreeZone offers server space to selected artists and online art projects.

V2_Organisation maintains a wide international network of artists, theorists and researchers working in the fields of electronic art, media, science and technology and collaborates closely with related media art centers. V2_ actively participates in several local, national and international networking initiatives that foster exchange and co-operation in media culture.

Virtual Platform - a coalition of Dutch cultural institutions dealing with research, development and presentation of digital media, offering policy advice, stimulating debate and coordinating media-cultural activities in The Netherlands.

Rotterdam Media Agenda (RMA) - an initiative seeking to enhance the profile of media culture in Rotterdam.
European Network of CyberArt (EncART) - a network of several
European media art laboratories for co-operation and joint experimentation with high-bandwidth connections.

European Cultural Backbone (ECB) - a coalition of media-cultural institutions and individuals working together to creatively use and develop participatory media for social change.

Syndicate - a European network of people involved in media culture and media art. Its website and mailing list are maintained by V2_East.
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