Media @ McGill

Patricia Anne Schmidt

Submitted by hive on

Quebec Electric: Towards a Cultural Ecology of Contemporary Digital and Electronic Culture (Montreal in Europe and South America)

The last 10 years have seen the growth of many groups, organizations and institutions, concentrated in Montreal, dedicated to the creation and spread of digital and electronic arts. (Mutek, Elektra, the Daniel Langlois Foundation, The Society for Art and Technology, Hexagram, Ubisoft, to name a few). They gather around sound and music (and image) that are technology driven, encompassing electronic dance culture, experimental electronic music, multimedia and immersive environments, and cutting edge digital arts. This concentration has become a beacon, attracting artists, technicians, workers and audiences from all over the country, and the world. Why here?

There are some other intriguing interactions happening. What is the Mutek organization doing in Chile and Mexico, China, Germany and Spain? Why is Montreal bleeding electronic producers and artists to Berlin? What is the relationship between these cultures in Europe, Latin America and North America? How does this culture move across varied linguistic and socio/cultural space and create itself?

Along with these fundamentals, I’m interested in how this culture is developing its own (digital) aesthetic practice, using software and machines to produce new noises, sounds and possibilities, effectively creating a new sonic lexicon in sound and image.

How does this technologically driven art and culture push and transform creative, social, legal, psychological and physical parameters; how does it shift dominant cultural and commercial codes of taste and art?

These emergent cultural communities, because of their novel or aesthetically challenging relationship to dominant modes of popular and mass culture, are often on the margins of funding streams from either the corporate sector or government. I want to understand how governmental, social, cultural and media policy affect and influence the proliferation and health of organizations and artists in this realm. I believe there is a great deal to be learned about our collective present and future in the output and activity of this very contemporary local, and globally connected culture, and in emergent artistic practice in general. It is all part of cultivating a healthy cultural ecology.