Grappling with complexity, women in tech, and Leonard Nimoy: Perry Chen's Y2K

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Screenshot of Leonard Nimoy in Y2K Family Survival Guide (1999). 

In December, Perry Chen organized a panel discussion at the New Museum (copresented with Rhizome and Creative Time Reports) exploring the phenomenon and legacy of the Y2K bug, as part of his ongoing project Computers in Crisis. Along with a presentation of books and video clips from the time, he assembled three Y2K experts to share their own experiences of preparing for 1/1/00, at which point many computer systems were expected to interpret the two-digit date as "1900" rather than "2000," with harrowing results. 

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Y2K: Welcome to the Jungle

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Copresented with the New Museum and Creative Time Reports. For more of Chen's work on the topic of Y2K, see the online exhibition "Computers in Crisis" and the upcoming event Y2K+15, Friday, December 12 at the New Museum in New York.

Russian military officers collaborate with their American counterparts at a U.S. military facility in Colorado, Jan. 1, 2000. Screenshot of AP newsreel footage courtesy the artist.

On December 30, 1999, 20 Russian military officers began a unique mission in a strange land. For the next several weeks they would be stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, a U.S. military facility in Colorado, monitoring incoming data from satellites and radar systems around the world.

With their U.S. counterparts, and with interpreters, the Russian officers worked nonstop in eight-hour shifts in Building 1840—the ad hoc Center for Year 2000 Strategic Stability—to ensure the best possible flow of information between the United States and Russia while keeping a close eye on ballistic missile activity.

Decades of mistrust were set aside to reckon with the potential crisis of Y2K, a moment in time when computers might fail or behave unpredictably if they read the digits "00" as the year 1900, not 2000, on midnight of the new millennium.

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Friday, December 12: Y2K+15 at the New Museum

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Screenshot of C-SPAN2 programming, July 14, 1998

7pm, Friday, December 12, 2014
The New Museum, 235 Bowery 
Tickets 

Fifteen years after the turn of the millennium, artist Perry Chen invites audiences to join him in exploring the phenomenon and legacy of Y2K as an inquiry into our entanglement with technology and its rapidly increasing complexity. This evening's event is presented in anticipation of the upcoming release of his online archive of Y2K books for First Look, copresented by New Museum and Rhizome, and in partnership with Creative Time Reports.

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