Montreal’s reputation as a hub for all things digital is about to become even more well-known with the launch of the first Montreal Digital Spring festival. The city’s digital arts and culture community – from artists to video game designers – unites to present 77 new cutting-edge experiences in electronic art and music…
The Montreal Digital Spring brings together several of the city’s big-deal cultural events, including the second edition of the BIAN International Digital Arts Biennial, featuring a new audio-visual exhibition from Japanese artist-musician Ryoji Ikeda at the Musée d’art contemporain and multidisciplinary company Lemieux & Pilon’s 4D Art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Electronic music and arts festival EM15 – a pairing of the ELEKTRA and MUTEK festivals as they both celebrate their 15th anniversaries – makes Place des Arts its headquarters at the end of May, while the Société des arts technologiques hosts an International Symposium on Immersive Creativity. As well, several galleries and museums hold diverse exhibitions on the digital arts: Phi Centre, Articule, Oboro, Studio XX, Vox, Galerie B-312, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Goethe Institute, Pointe-à-Callière history museum, Usine C, and ten of the city’s Maisons de la Culture, and Cinémathèque Québécoise.
One of the most prominent of the Montreal Digital Spring is the McLaren Wall-to-Wall exhibition, held outdoors throughout downtown’s Quartier des Spectacles. The tribute to Oscar winning animator Norman McLaren features eight video works projected onto the façades of buildings: excerpts from nine of Norman McLaren’s films and brand-new commissioned works, including a film by Kid Koala and Hololabs. Also in the Quartier des Spectacles, Les 21 Balançoires, created by Montreal artists Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat, lets us make music simply by swinging on any one of 21 swings located along President-Kennedy Avenue. Also outdoors and by the same artists, but this time at the Planetarium, is Choreographies for Humans and Stars, a creative, multimedia reflection of our shared cosmos.
Japanese artist and electronic musician Ryoji Ikeda explores the sound to its most minute degrees, breaking it down into minimalist components and visual data in the Musée d’art contemporain’s exhibition C4I, opening May 6. The resulting immersive, large-screen art work both dazzles with its strange beauty and provokes questions of nature and aesthetics in the age of the digital. Later in the month, food and technology is on the menu as artists, researchers, chefs and scholars create new works together. In June, the Musée marks its 50th anniversary with Pulse Room, and installation of 300 incandescent, computer-controlled light bulbs by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, previously shown at the 2007 Venice Biennale. Known for its collections of historical Quebec art, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts leaps into the future-present with Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon’s immersive installation La gémellité du rêve, a combination of theatre, film, dance, poetry, music and visual arts, opening May 5. Lemieux and Pilon pop up at the Planetarium as well with their poetic multimedia space journey, Continuum.
Dive into the wide-ranging world of electronic music and audio-visual experimentation at EM 15, May 27-June 1. From atmospheric sit-down concerts to late-night dance parties, the festival combines the best of Mutek and Elektra with internationally-acclaimed artists playing shows unique to the festival – among them: Richie Hawtin, Nicolas Jaar, Shackleton, Robert Henke, Audion, Ricardo Villalobos, Tim Hecker, Oneohtrix Point Never and many more. Shows take place at the Musee d’art contemporain, at concert venue Metropolis, and outdoors on the Place des Arts Esplanade – don’t miss Herman Kolgen and David Letellier’s installation Eotone, a sound and sculptural work that turns wind into harmonic music.
Hundreds of rotating gears reflect the environmental impact of the Alberta tar sands in Robyn Moody’s sculptural exhibition, Power 2: Heart Lake as Seen Through the Eyes of Manley Natland, held at the Phi Centre alongside ÆLAB’s performative, high-tech video installation Milieux Associés. Eastern Bloc art centre holds its 6th Sight & Sound Festival of emerging artists, May 20-25, with installations, performances, workshops and presentations falling under the theme Science Faction, a merging of art, science and speculative science-fiction. And the SAT screens Polynôme, four immersive films screened in the Satosphere 360-degree dome, as well Quantum – Nimbes by French artists 1024 Architecture, a wild collision of pixels referencing theoretical physics and the mysteries of the cosmos, and Turcot: The Highway as Architecture, a 360-degree look at one of Montreal’s most controversial highway interchanges. Medical imaging also gets the Satosphere treatment as Bruno Ribeiro, a.k.a. Nohista, immerses us in MRI graphics of the inside of the human body juxtaposed with a dancer in motion and musical accompaniment.
Montreal Digital Spring, until June 21, 2014
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