The Archivist Speaks ... [7]

It's the 100th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan's birth, and it's celebrated at V2_ on three consecutive nights with Blowup "We Are All Crew".

The Archivist Speaks ... [7]

snippet from La plissure du texte (1983)

We Are All Crew features the Strategic Art Initiative 2.0 exhibition of re-created early telematic artworks from 1986 (with a.o. David Rokeby and Graham Smith); the worldwide premiere of Them F*ckin’ Robots, a documentary on electronic art pioneer Norman White; and a lecture by Arjen Mulder, on the things we love and love to hate about McLuhan.

Of course there are many obvious relations to make between these events and past events at V2_. Graham Smith, who was in the 1986 Stategic Arts Initiative, has since then continued to explore a physical notion of telepresence, and many of his projects have been shown at V2_. For instance MOBI, a telepresence robot which is like a more refined version of his 1986 Displaced Perspectives, was part of the DEAF07 exhibition. David Rokeby's n-Cha(n)t was on show at DEAF04. Another obvious relation is the media theory of Arjen Mulder, which has always been deeply informed by McLuhan. His Understanding Media Theory contains, amongst many other things, an inspiring account of McLuhan's thoughts. No wonder that the lectures which accompagnied the presentation of the book featured  McLuhan-inspired thinkers. Derrick de Kerckhove – in many ways McLuhan's most direct heir – has also been a guest at V2_ many times, notably at  Manifestation for the Unstable Media 4 and the DEAF04 symposium. He  wrote an essay for DEAF96: The Digital Imperative. A last obvious connection is that between the robot art of Norman White and the many robot performances which took place at V2_. But I already mentioned some of those in earlier columns.

I wanted to go back further in time – to the 1980s and early 1990s. Only a small part of the V2_archive's documents and information of those years is publicly on view. (We're working on it). I was thinking of 1992, when the San Francisco festival took place at V2_, which included a robot performance by Chico MacMurtrie. Two hi-res scans of the poster are here and here. I guess that connects to Norman White's work in some senses.

Talking about telepresence and 1992, one cannot escape referencing Paul Sermon's groundbreaking installation Telematic Dreaming, which was shown at V2_ as part of the Body in Ruin exhibition in 1993.

And I was also thinking of the event The Art of Being Everywhere, which took place at V2_ in 1992, it was curated by Robert Adrian, one of the central figures in early telematic art. This event adressed the possibilities of electronic networking and the consequences thereof – like telepresence and the idea one is connectected to 'everywhere' by electronic signals. Adrian was the man behind ZEROnet.

Let's go back even further – and just for this time move outside of the V2_archive. Robert Adrian took also part in the by now legendary 1983 event La plissure du texte – conceived by Roy Ascott (See: This weaves another connection, as one versions of that text, was captured on disc by, yes, Norman White. It can be accessed online at 1983 telepresence, here's a snippet:

      T 50

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