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-eighties 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 Though an historical document, most of what is in the Manifesto is still crucial for the work of the organization.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.