“We have an amazing pool of artists and organizations that evolve between the complexity of the high-tech side of digital technology and its creative potential, and the ingenuity of the low-tech one.” Explore Montreál’s innovators at Eastern Bloc, SAT, Perte de Signal and Projet EVA.
First and foremost, it’s a venue with an annual exhibition program of experimental new media arts, with performances, installations, conferences and workshops. In about seven years, they’ve really made their place in Montréal’s cultural landscape as a young, artists-run center that is doing a lot with very little means.
They have plenty of activities/events in addition to the exhibitions program, such as residencies and a series they’ve been running since 2010, called Salon: Data, where they present the artwork of emerging artists. They also have a brand new lab, integrated into their space about a year ago, where they hold workshops and discussions on technological topics.
Managed by a small, young, dynamic team, Eastern Bloc also organizes an annual digital arts festival called Sight & Sound. Now in its 5th edition, it focuses on experimental proposals for and critical approaches to the meeting of art and technology. As it becomes more and more internationally renowned, Sight & Sound brings Montréal’s new media arts field into the spotlight, focusing on what it means to truly take risks and the beauty of that posture.
7240, Rue Clark – website
SIGHT & SOUND
Founded in 1996, the Society for Arts and Technology wants to gather in a sort of home-complex different sides that make the technological arts a whole cultural world in itself. The SAT includes within their beautiful building a large first-floor space where they host concerts, performances and Dj/Vj’s nights. The second floor houses offices and the Métalab, a research development program that works on open software related to augmented reality, telepresence and interactivity.
On the third floor, there’s the Satosphère, a large 360° spherical room – a dome – that presents immersive projections and AV performances, while the audience lies down on long, oblong couches. The SAT also runs an artist residency program especially for the dome, where artists may create and experiment directly in the space, with the help of specialized technicians. The SAT is well known for its “Transform formation” program of vjing / djing software, video mapping, interactivity control, etc.
And last but not least, the FoodLab, which is a “nouveau genre” bistro, where young chiefs are invited to experiment with creative menus and to enjoy on one of the nicest terraces in Montréal.
1201, Boulevard Saint-Laurent – Website
Perte de Signal is an organization that gathers a great number of artists from Montréal and Québec City. It represents its artist members, as a gallery would, but mainly in the media arts field and without a gallery space. Rather, they work on diffusion through less traditional exhibition spaces, such as community exhibition centers and other cultural spaces. In doing so, they work on audience outreach and media arts demystification.
A lot of women artists are involved in the organization and they definitely deserve to be mentioned by name: Darsha Hewitt, Martine Lauzier, Erin Sexton, Nelly-Ève Rajotte, Pavitra Wickramasinghe, Myriam Bessette, Amélie Brisson-Darveau and Claudette Lemay. 8 on a total of 19 artists – we’re approaching parity! Their various art practices, from video to sound performance, DIY electronics and electromechanical or sound installations, are all amazingly well supported through pro-active diffusion projects and by an overall representation of their works in general.
Perte de Signal also has an international residencies program as well as workshop activities. Initially founded as an artist collective in 1997, they officially became an artists-run center in 2000 – now at the core of the young creative media arts scene of Montréal.
PERTE DE SIGNAL
5445, avenue De Gaspé – website
Projet EVA, formed by Etienne Grenier and Simon Laroche, is an artist duo from Montréal who work with the audience’s discomfort almost as if it was a material in itself. Take, for example, two of their recent artworks: This Is No Game, a sort of performance, and Cinétose, more of an experiential installation.
With This Is No Game, the audience is at the mercy of the performance artists, who are operated by remote control, in a “Gameboy” style, by members of the audience, who become temporary participants. While audience members control the artists’ movements, the latter are truly blind (with blacked-out glasses) and receive directives through wireless electronic sound devices in their helmets. Their behaviors may be gentle but also somehow dangerous, because the control is at the mercy of the audience’s good will or kinky mood.
Cinétose is more like a performative installation and an environment for a smaller audience. It starts in a dark room where the light gradually reveals a metal ceiling that is surprisingly lowered over our heads. Activated by a robotic system, it gives the audience a strange effect of dizziness and fear, filled with some strange pleasure.
Written October 2013, by Nathalie Bachand. Check her profile here