Montreal is no stranger to pushing the boundaries of possibility in electronic music and art, seeking out the best in home-grown and international talent to showcase in galleries as much as in dance clubs. After over a decade of such innovation, Elektra remains one of the festivals plugged right in to the new, different and digital.
The 14th Elektra Festival, May 1-5, unites over 40 audiovisual artists and musicians under the theme of “Anti/Matter,” bringing immersive performances and art installations to some of Montreal’s most technology-driven venues, including PHI Centre, Usine C, Cinémathèque Québécoise, Goethe-Institut, and the Society for Art and Technology.
All Elektra shows go beyond simply watching a screen or listening to music; they aim to surround us with sound and image in one way or another. This year’s opening performances on May 2 recreate nothing less than a solar eclipse in the pairing of French musician Mondkopf (here inspired by Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmosphere and Soundtracks) and designers from Trafik, as well as an representation of systems theory in Louis Dufort’s Concatenare_IV, and a live analogue-digital collaboration between visual artist Sabrina Ratté and sound artist Jesse Osborne-Lanthier. And Hugo Arcier’s video projection Nostalgia for Nature, created with computer-generated images only, touches on one of electronic art’s biggest paradoxes: representation of the so-called natural through the so-called artificial.
On the evening of May 3, legendary German artist-producer ATOMTM (Uwe Schmidt) premiers a live and audio-visually enhanced performance of HD, his latest album on the Raster-Noton label. Performances also come from Swedish filmmaker Joel Dittrich, whose White noise/Black noise explores the highs and lows of urban life, and artists Nohista and Tasman Richardson, who use tube television sets and Atari 2600 consoles to merge noise-sound and glitch-image. Elektra’s final night of performances, May 4, is devoted to Japanese electronic music label Atak, featuring acclaimed sound artist Evala and the algorithmic musical flow of Keiichiro Shibuya and Takashi Ikegami – as a bonus, Evala and Shibuya joins forces for Atak Dance Hall.
Sound performances and art installations (many of them free) add another dimension to the evening shows: Nicolas Bernier’s Frequencies, in which a computer program triggers tuning forks; Loco-Dyna-Morphics, a 360° film by Jan Zehn and Stefan Berke, playing at the Society for Art and Technology’s Satosphere; a guided Meteorological Sound Walk; Alexis O’Hara’s playable musical instrument/installation Squeeeeque! L’Igloo Improbable (pictured above); plus sound-art installations at Usine C and more at galleries Oboro, Skol, Occurence and the Phi Centre, also host to the International Marketplace for Digital Arts conference, May 2-3, where professionals scheme to bring us more of the latest and greatest in digital art.
Elektra, May 1-5, 2013