#092 Apr/May 2003


ISSN 1488-3635 #92 April - May 2003


* 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

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. 

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 
<info@isea-web.org> for the subscription form. More information about Digital
Creativity can be found here: 

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 

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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