THE INTER-SOCIETY FOR THE ELECTRONIC ARTS ISEA NEWSLETTER #92 ISSN 1488-3635 #92 April - May 2003 _______________________________________________________________ * CONTENTS * * Editorial by Angela Plohman * "Art + Technology in Montreal: the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) and the maturing of an emergent technological art scene" by Magdalena Wesolkowska, SAT[meta_lab], SAT * "Montreal's web-based production" by Valerie Lamontagne, Mobile Gaze * "Montreal: good food, students, research and the DISFA programme" by Joanna Berzowska, Assistant Professor, Design/DISFA, Concordia University ************************************************** Editorial by Angela Plohman ISEA Coordinating Director ************************************************** We are pleased to introduce this current issue of the ISEA Newsletter (INL), guest edited by Magdalena Wesolkowska, coordinator and producer of the SAT[meta_lab] programme at the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. With a focus on Montreal, the host city of ISEA95, this issue is the fourth INL dedicated to electronic art practices in a particular region or city. ISEA NEWS-- In our effort to continue to offer more benefits to our members, we are pleased to announce a continued collaboration with Digital Creativity. The publishers are offering all ISEA members 25% off their 2003 subscription to the journal. In order to take advantage of this offer, please contact ISEA HQ <firstname.lastname@example.org> for the subscription form. More information about Digital Creativity can be found here: <http://www.szp.swets.nl/szp/frameset.htm?url=/szp/journals/dc.htm> ISEA2004 NEWS-- ISEA2004 organizers have announced the next deadline for submissions: August 15, 2003. Information on the submission process for ISEA2004 is on the web site, which is available at <http://www.isea2004.net>. The submission forms will be online from June and you can also register at the site to receive email updates. We hope you enjoy this edition of the INL! ***************************************** Art + Technology in Montreal: the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) and the maturing of an emergent technological art scene By Magdalena Wesolkowska, SAT[meta_lab], SAT ***************************************** Technology revolutionizes the universe of our senses and as a consequence, the universe of our mind. We can no longer go back to the values of the past, nor to any way of seeing or judging things by traditional criteria. The destruction of tradition in all spheres, as a result of the impact of technology, means that a new aesthetic principle must be invented. - Augusto de Campos, "The Artist and Technological Society" Over the last decade Montreal has grown to be one of North America's hubs for technological innovation not only in biotechnology or aviation technology, but also in multimedia and electronic arts. Its art, music, design and industry communities tied to digital technologies are some of the most diverse and dynamic on the continent. Montreal's reputation as an international crossroads for research, innovation, and creation in digital technologies and electronic arts is cultivated in large part by the presence and synergy of electronic music and video festivals such as MUTEK (www.mutek.ca), MEG (www.megmontreal.com), FCMM (www.fcmm.com) and ELEKTRA (www.elektrafestival.ca); organizations such as the Foundation Daniel Langlois (www.fondation-langlois.org/); research institutes such as Hexagram (the Institute for Research and Creation in Media Arts and Technologies created jointly by Concordia and the Universite du Quebec a Montreal; www.hexagram.org) and various university-based research groups such as Interstices (www.interstices.ca), Teslab-Tec (www.unites.uqam.ca/teslab/) and Gradient; collectives such as Mobile Gaze (www.mobilegaze.com) and AE; and a number of dedicated centers such as Oboro/Oboro-Tech (www.oboro.net), StudioXX (www.studioxx.org), Videographe-PARC (www.videographe.qc.ca), and of course the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT, www.sat.qc.ca). Also, let's not forget that the ISEA organisation had its headquarters in Montreal up until the year 2000. In this newsletter, besides my contribution about the place of the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) in Montreal's digital art scene, you will find additional articles by Valerie Lamontagne on Montreal's web-based productions and her collective Mobile Gaze (www.mobilegaze.com), as well as by Joanna Berzowska (www.berzowska.com) on some of Montreal's innovative design research and a unique academic programme in digital media (digital.concordia.ca/). But before we go into the present and perhaps have a glimpse at the future of the SAT, let's turn back the clock just for a moment... In 1995, something big happened in Montreal, an event that would leave a permanent mark on the city's digital and technological art milieu: ISEA95, which brought about 1200 artists from all over the world to Montreal's diverse artistic and academic venues. The central theme of this great symposium was Emergent Senses. In the words of the organisers, it was "an invitation to examine and investigate the relationship between the viewer, technology and the works emerging from it. It was also intended to guide participants through a series of reflections on the development and exploration of new contents and the different forms of access to them." At that time there was a realization that the rapid development of media technologies intersected to create dynamic opportunities for the production of new meanings and experiences. ISEA95 Montreal was an opportunity to think about the implications of technology on media, on sensory perception, on aesthetic sensibility and on new means of relating and communicating among individuals. The merging of art and technology that characterized ISEA95 Montreal was conducive for taking stock of this fast- evolving scene. For Montreal, the organisers of ISEA and the artists working in this milieu, it was the beginning of something truly new... One of the direct results of ISEA95 was the founding in 1996 in Montreal of the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) by several of the ISEA95 organizers - among whom were Alain Mongeau, Artistic Director of MUTEK for the last several years, Luc Courchesne, professor at Universite de Montreal and current President of SAT, as well as Monique Savoie, current Director of SAT. Their decision to create the SAT stemmed from their shared desire to put new digital production tools at the service of artistic expression and from the realization that Montreal had a budding, yet very dispersed electronic art scene that needed integration. Thus, by providing a means for artists who work with digital technologies to exchange their knowledge, their research and their experiences in digital creation and production, the SAT's aim was to became a central node from which there was a possibility to develop new ways of doing and thinking that would be more in tune with the challenges and hopes of the promised digital age. The SAT was to become a unique cultural "petri dish" for Montreal-based and visiting artists interested in exploring emergent forms of technological arts: one which was not to be based on sterile techniques, but rather on "positive forms of contamination." So into what sort of habitat for digital culture has the SAT evolved since 1996? We can safely say that the SAT has become a transdisciplinary centre dedicated to the creation, dissemination and conservation of digital culture: a culture lying at the crossroads of three distinct sectors - computer science, communications and culture - and axed on creativity and innovation, on communication and networks, and on inter-action and experience. Thus the SAT is able to provide a stimulating research and production context for all creative domains, ranging from arts to music to design. Its members come from a variety of different artistic and technological disciplines and their creativity has been the raw material for a rapidly growing digital media industry seeking innovative and creative products as well as cultural content. For SAT's Director, "it is no longer possible to ignore the role of technological arts as an important sector of culture, for they are present in almost every artistic discipline and are at the heart of contemporary cultural developments. It is equally impossible to not recognize the contribution of young and highly educated researchers. It is for this reason that we wish to provide them with a stimulating 'extramural' (out-of-university) research and production context." Thus, the beginning of the 21st century, which brought about an increased interest in digital culture, particularly regarding "content creators" and the ultra-rapid evolution of this sector, coincided with SAT's effort to restructure its organization to better respond to the needs of the growing digital media community. In October 2000, the SAT readjusted its mandate from solely a creation and production center to also a dissemination center, having at its disposal a 14,000 square feet space in the heart of Montreal's cultural corridor, which has generated more than a hundred events in the last 28 months and produced more than fifteen creations through its Artists in Residency program. This dissemination and production space has contributed in placing the SAT as a key
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