This afternoon I had a lengthy meeting with Alex Adriaansen, director at V2_ ; he could not have been more generous with his time or forthcoming with his views about the context for New Media studies in the Netherlands or the challenges they face. So I will note it all down before I forget!
First, V2_ has been around for 25 years and that means that by now they have established a reputation as doing interesting, edgy things and also having good practices. Alex emphasized how important it was to them to be truly interdisciplinary themselves, and this brings it’s own challenges because scientists have one way of doing things and, people concerned with business have another, and artists still another, and so on. But he felt this was something they had succeeded in working out over the years, and now these other groups respect their way of doing things.
Another characteristic of the Dutch context is the focus on projects rather than on structural funding schemes for the long term. Alex attributes this to politicians and business people tending to take a short view that always judges success by some concrete result, rather than on what is learned or on long-term possibilities. The problem for V2_, (or any organisation, because I see this in the US as well) is that you have to always follow whatever trend the funding agency is hot for, which means first that you may not be able to really follow through on ideas that need more time, and, perhaps a greater problem, you can get caught up iin the hype so that you lose your critical perspective. I’ve heard this from Florian at Piet Zwart as well, and I will be sure to check on it at De Waag tomorrow.
But Alex felt that they were navigating these challenges successfully. I think V2_ audience may be less prone to falling for hype as well, because most of their programs are aimed at the “creative class” meaning artists, designers, theoreticians, etc. Except for the DEAF Festival, they aren’t very concerned with reaching a wide audience. However, they have decided to strengthen their ties to some educational institutions. They have a pretty strong connection to Piet Zwart MDMA already, and now they are pursuing a PhD programs with some universities (he didn’t say which). I think that sounds like a great idea, and it makes me wish I had time to take on another degree!
The biggest challenge Alex sees ahead for V2_ is reorganizing itself so that it can on the one hand strengthen it’s artistic focus, but on the other build on the more “practical” possibilities suggested by their research. So I look forward to seeing what happens in the next year. –Or rather the next four, as these things go in the Netherlands.
In addition to talking about V2_, we also talked about the program under development at my school, CSU Stanislaus, and the challenges we face in being rather isolated from any big cities or cultural institutions. He suggested looking at the IAMAS program in Japan; from their website, IAMAS is:
AMAS consists of two schools: the Institute of Advanced Media Arts and Sciences and the International Academy of Media Arts and Sciences. The Institute is solely a graduate school (for obtaining a Masters Degree) and has one faculty and one course, namely Media Creations. There are 20 students in each year of the course. The Academy is a vocational college accepting 30 students each year who must have at least graduated from high school.
That sounds like an interesting program to investigate.
In addition to thanking Alex for his time, and for sharing of the electronic proceedings of DEAF with me, I also have to thank him for being so gracious about my being almost an hour late! On my way there I got completely loast in the tram system and every time I thought I figured it out, I went even more wrong. Finally I just took the Metro, which I seem to understand better. Lucky for me I had already purchased an OV-chipkaart, which iis a smart card for the metro, buses, and trams. My strippenkaart would never have lasted through that maze, and then I would have had to search for a shop to buy one… But anyway, all’s well that ends well.
I may edit this later if I realize I’ve forgotten something.