bloc // January 11, 2000

Scary Y2K ⁄⁄

Date: December 1999
Venue:Chapter Arts Centre
Partner: Chapter Arts Centre |
Partner: |

This seminar will focus on our human capacity for prophecy


In the 50`s when mainframe computers were first programmed and memory was costly, programmers were encouraged to save memory by expressing years in two digits rather than four. Now with the approaching year 2000 some computers will find it difficult to distinguish between 1900 and 2000. To confuse matters the millennium year is also a leap year.

Although YK2 has been `scary` for a number of years it has been relentlessly ignored. The human race rarely looks beyond the initial benefit of innovations, something the environmentalists among others have been warning for some time.

The bug reminds us of how interdependent present society is on digital technology, a very recent relationship of reliance. Irrespective of whether ones own computer is `Millennium Compliant` there is no guaranteed protection against the web of computers servicing our homes, communities, and businesses. The anticipated millennium bug highlights some characteristics of present society as well as ascribes to a long history of human foreboding.

Human kind has always prophetised impending doom. Has the Y2K embraced the age old human need for lore, a bit of adversity and the chance to begin again? Or will it be added to the list of other premonitions, such as the apocalypse, which soon become myths. Or does this harbinger call into question our present relationship to Christianity? – the year 2000 being Jesus`s birthday.

The soothsayers of this seminar will offer some practical advice for protecting our homes, community, and work against the bug. However, the seminar will focus on our human capacity for prophecy, and ask: Is the bug a flaw in thinking and a wakeup call, a flux that will shift the course of human kind by encouraging long term considerations OR if we sustain access to our computer when the gong strikes twelve will we wipe our brows and and return to our blinkered ways?


Paul Swann | National co-ordinator of the Y2K Community Action Network

Peter Russell | Writer and editor of an independent, annual journal `Fourth Door Review`, an interdisciplinary green cultural journal

Michael Punt | Artist and writer