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Video Positive 2000: The Other Side of Zero, VPY2K

The Liverpool based biennial festival of video and new media was started by the commissioning agency FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology) in 1989 under its former incarnation as Merseyside Moviola. The final festival skipped a year to end on the millennium; the anticipation and anti-climax of which was a theme, along with the hyper speed of contemporary life and the burgeoning dialogues between the local and the global that new technologies enabled. By 2000 FACT was also focused on the development of the purpose built FACT Centre which opened in 2003 and became the natural successor to Video Positive. The festival had proved from the outset that it could attract huge audiences for challenging contemporary art and this momentum was continued by the Liverpool Biennial which had started the previous year. VP2K was pared down in comparison to VP1997 which, like ISEA98, had taken place in both Liverpool & Manchester. Operating out of just three main venues with events and one major off-site project, the commissioned works were indicative of the restrained minimalism current in new media practice. That is not to say the festival was without spectacle: Vuk Cosic's ASCII Architecture projected ASCII converted data over the ornate fa├žade of St. Georges Hall which glowed as darkness fell and Drydan Goodwin's multiscreen installation Wait presented a myriad of imitate portraits of people awaiting the new millennium. Other works of note include Imogeny Stidworthy & Michael Currin's Closing/Close By; A.K.Dolven's Looking Back and Sonia Boyce with Liverpool Black Sisters' Motherlode. The festival also presented One Bit Louder, a series of Internet audio works curated by Micz Flor, and the UK premiere of Superflex's Superchannel which enables real-time streaming of video and audio content. A new channel was created for the festival in collaboration with tenants of social housing which continues as The Superchannel is symptomatic of the utopian theme that was already emerging in the visual arts at the time and rather than present the project on a solitary monitor or projected interface, the Liverpool channel was installed in a workstation environment in a valiant attempt to create a dynamic space for interaction, rather than contemplation.

Marie-Anne McQuay

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Still from Dryden Goodwin's Wait

Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
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