This presentation introduces the curatorial practice of Esther Bourdages, through exhibitions featuring digital art and sound art in different contexts, inside and outside of the white cube. Her work addresses the challenges and strategies of sound art curating, interlacing statements with history, the social, the political, urbanism fields in relation to the artistic engagement with digital media.
Esther Bourdages works in the visual arts field as a writer, independent curator and scholar. She holds a MA in Art History from Université de Montréal, where she wrote about the Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely and the relationship between sculpture within an expanded field as multimedia and sound art. Her curatorial research explores art forms such as site-specific art, installation art and sculpture, often in conjunction with digital media. Working as a long-term collaborator on contemporary art exhibitions with the Darling Foundry / Quartier Éphemère in Montréal has given to her many opportunities to develop her work in these areas. She is particularly interested in developing interdisciplinary projects that relate to contemporary ideas in the fields of architecture, anthropology, urbanism, and cultural studies. Recent work related to this has examined urban environments in relation to the social and historical fabric of cities. An especially important aspect of her curatorial practice is sound, which she endeavour to treat as an independent rather than supplementary medium. She is the author of many articles and critical commentaries on contemporary art. She is recently part of the editorial committee of .DPI, an on-line feminist journal of art and digital culture. She is President at Eastern Bloc, an exhibition and arts production centre dedicated to New Media and interdisciplinary art.
L’art comme interface – Jean Dubois présentera une sélection de travaux artistiques qu’il a réalisés depuis le début des années 2000. Il analysera ses réalisations en montrant comment il souhaite mettre le spectateur en relation avec lui-même par l’expérimentation de l’oeuvre d’art. Il esquissera l’approche critique avec laquelle il aborde la notion d’interface en s’inspirant, entre autres, de l’esthétique pragmatique de John Dewey.
Jean Dubois réalise des installations médiatiques qui abordent de manière autant poétique que critique les rapports interpersonnels, la textualité combinatoire et les situations réflexives. Il utilise des interfaces médiatiques intégrant le corps des spectateurs afin de produire des effets de rencontre avec des personnages ou des environnements. Il poursuit ses recherches en explorant le croisement des interfaces corporelles et des espaces publics. Il enseigne à l’École des arts visuels et médiatiques de l’UQAM et préside le conseil d’administration du centre de l’image contemporaine Vox. Il est également membre de l’Institut Hexagram. Ses œuvres ont été présentées dans plusieurs centres d’art et musées au Canada ainsi qu’à l’étranger.
Dr. Jonathan Lessard
The field of video game history is still in early emergence. Devoting years of research on such a recent and low-culture subject as computer adventure games might seem a bit trivial in comparison to more traditional and established art history matters. In this talk, I would like to highlight how this « geeky » inquiry raised problems reaching far beyond the antiquarian review. Amonsgt other issues I will speak of the problem of game genres, patterns in the evolution of games (and not only digital) as well as factors affecting the emergence and exploration of new cultural forms.
Jonathan Lessard is a game designer, historian and researcher. He left the mainstream game industry in 2001 to found his own studio, Absurdus, at which he played the roles of game designer, 3D artist, programmer and writer. He is an active member of the game studies research community; participating in conferences and publishing in specialized journals such as Games and Culture, Eludamos and Loading… Having completed a PhD on the formal history of adventure games, he has now launched a FRQSC funded project to research new avenues in the design of non-player-character conversations.
Dr. Christine Ross
Since the late 1990s—with the growth of new media technology and relational aesthetics, as well as the renewed interest in the history of places—spatial art practices have expanded to include in situ installation art, relational interventions, immersive environments, intelligent architecture, augmented reality and net localizations. This expansion has set about a significant rearticulation of the aesthetics of space, one in which artistic practices invested in the critique of space have moved away from the 1970/80s demythologization of space (the disclosure of the doxa of specific environments) to engage with what might be called the activation of sites—an activation that calls for the mobilization of the spectator and his or her participation in the making of the artwork. In most cases, the activation of space requires the mobilization of the spectator inside or outside the gallery space. It often relies on new media technology to do so. Exploring mobilization as a form of emancipation of the spectator, it has its roots in expanded cinema practices of the 1960s and 70s— practices that seek to break away from the corporeal immobilization and black boxing of film spectatorship. It also requires a greater participation from the spectator in the production of specific environments.
The introduction of mobile interfaces in artistic practices—the aesthetic exploration of spatial interfaces provided by mobile technologies (books, maps, Walkmans, CD players) and mobile technologies with location-awareness and Augmented Reality applications (iPods, smartphones, location-aware technologies whose localization capacities are enabled by the global positioning system (GPS), Wi-Fi or the triangulation of location by radio-waves)—has played a major role in this spatial shift, insofar as it has been explored as a process of mobilization and participation. But how can these practices be said to be innovative and critical? The redefinitions they appear to entail— redefinitions of spectatorship, perceptibility, criticality, spatial politics, publicity vs privacy, mediality and temporality—remain insufficiently addressed in the fields of art history and media studies. In an attempt to begin to assess the role of media art in the development of the aesthetics of space, my presentation will discuss different artistic projects involved in the interpellation of perception in/as movement—not only the movement of the participant in space, but also the mobility of media devices, the movement of the image, the movement of sound, the circulation of contemporary and historical information in relation to a singular place, the participant’s capacity to be affectively moved through movement, as well as mobility impairment—as an undertaking by which a specific public space is activated (politicized, historicized or simply perceived). To make this point, it examines how recent media art establishes an important dialogue with cognitive science research, as it shares the latter’s preoccupation with and growing expertise in the phenomenology of movement and its impact on perception.
Christine Ross is Professor and James McGill Chair in Contemporary Art History in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University. Her main field of research is contemporary media arts, in particular: the relationship between media, aesthetics and subjectivity; visuality; mutations of spectatorship in contemporary (participatory) art; augmented reality; and reconfigurations of time and temporality in recent media arts. Her books include: The Past is the Present; It’s the Future too: The Temporal Turn in Contemporary Art (Continuum, 2012); The Aesthetics of Disengagement: Contemporary Art and Depression (University of Minnesota Press, 2006); and Images de surface: l’art vidéo reconsidéré (Artextes, 1996). She has co-edited (with Olivier Asselin and Johanne Lamoureux) Precarious Visualities: New Perspectives on Identification in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008). Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2010-) and first laureate of the Artexte Award for Research in Contemporary Art (2012), she is the co-founder of the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University and was recently named the recipient of the David Thomson Award for Graduate Supervision and Teaching (2011). She is currently the Principal Investigator of two FQRSC research teams on the “Exploration of Augmented Reality in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture,” and “Hybrid Spaces in New Media” (2005-2013). She is now working on a series of articles and a book manuscript on perception in movement in contemporary spatial art practices.