A glimpse into Digital Québec, organized by ELEKTRA and MUTEK

London’s BFI played host to Digital Québec on March 12th and 13th. The joint event, organized by ELEKTRA and MUTEK, brought artists from Montreal to present 8 audio-visual performances. The first night featured works from Dominique T. Skoltz, Yan Breuleux, Matthew Biderman and Alain Thibault, and Herman Kolgen.

Dominique T. Skoltz began the event with y2o, a short movie with an interesting narrative, remarkable photography and lighting, and an interesting exploration of experimental underwater film techniques, slow motion and glitch editing. The series of vignettes makes us all voyeurs gazing into the private and harmoniuous-to-contentious moments of a relationship, in medias res. The choice to film underwater at first seems to be one of happenstance, however, the medium perfectly transmits the interpersonal communicated emotions between the actors. Every movement, touch and dampened utterance is registered by the water, restrained, yet magnified until the actors and setting are left drained.

Matthew Biederman & 4X (Alain Thibault) presented Physical a colourful and intense audiovisual performance that attempted to push the audience towards the synaesthetic experience. A very well designed and rich set of hues and textures intertwined with a bold techno soundtrack, achieving a sustainable growth and good prosody throughout the whole performance. Great technique for sense overload in a minimalist set, which otherwise, could have provided a superb club experience.

Yan Breuleux presented Tempêtes, an audiovisual composition inspired in Joseph Mallord William Turner’s work. A journey that flowed through landscapes with pulsating organic structures. This piece has been rendered with a superb resolution, which provided a good sense of immersion and was a great example of quality and mastery of 3D synthesis, making use of physical based modelling, soft body dynamics, generative structures and swarm behaviours.

Herman Kolgen brought some of the highest moments of the event’s first night. Aftershock set the tension of a post-apocalyptic world after nuclear fallout, reminding us of the dangers of the nuclear alternative and waste. Seismik exposed the Earth upon which we walk as an expressive dynamic system — a living, breathing, growing and developing organism. Using culled seismic readings, the acoustic vibrations of room, and the electromagnetic interference of Kolgen’s own body, Seismik provided data visualizations of seismic readings and pulsating thrusts of controlled but rotund aural feedback, reminded us of the contrast between Earth’s fragile nature and violent activity. Kolgen’s larger-than-life images survey geological formations at varying degrees of granularity as they shift, form, settle and calm through phases of turbulence and rest.

 

The second night featured works from Maotik & Metametric, Woulg, Myriam Bleaue and, Roger Tellier-Craig and Sabrina Ratté.

Maotik & Metametric transported the audience by labyrinthian funnel to Omnis, a spatial arena in which 3-dimensional objects, particle formations and geometrical abstractions coalesce, undulate and revolve as they react to rhythmic and pulsating sonic patterns while bending the perception of depth and space in a presentation of visual music.

Woulg used a prominent, yet small, circle with inconspicuous growth to hypnotize a theater that soon realized it would be entertained by temporal and static monochromatic representations of spectral data using simple geometric impressions of dynamic glitches, tones, and pulses. The focus was therefore more in the sound, as Woulg admitted after the show, which was controlled mostly with a hand-set, a game controller with accelerometers and flashing buttons to affect the performance.

Myriam Bleau dismantled the turntable and relocated the scratch, mix, sample and crossfade to her Soft Revolvers. Bleau borrowed the technique of the DJ to reassemble distinct sonic utterances into a sonorous, complete electronic composition as she transposed, whirled and clashed her self-designed and built, four spinning, luminous sensor-embedded tops upon her workspace.

Roger Tellier-Craig and Sabrina Ratté used color, gradients, shape and sound to elicit a retro-futuristic mood and envelop the audience with graphic building blocks whose composition and orientation intimated both architecture and technology.

Many thanks to MUTEK and ELEKTRA, for organising such a great event and for the warm reception in the after-show. Thanks to Herman Kolgen and Myriam Bleau for the great conversations and for sharing technicalities. Montréal digital art scene is definitely pushing the boundaries.

This post was a collaboration between Francisco Bernardo (EAVI/Goldsmiths) with Ireti Olowe (QMUL).