IMG: From Image to Imagination

Distinguishing itself in a milieu saturated with conferences concerned with new technologies and creative industries, Forum IMG tackles artistic practice, theoretical work and industry issues with a lens on leading-edge artists, ethics, cultural implications and innovative business operations. With thematics broadly linked to imagining our digital futures, the forum examines a range of arts intersecting with technology and how they affect social, political and lived experiences.

For professionals, practitioners, creative companies and the curious alike, three days of keynotes, panels and masterclasses will take place across multiple spaces in the state-of-the-art facilities of 7 Fingers Studios, Tuesday, August 20 and running through Thursday, August 22. Boasting already more than 60 participating speakers, including many high-profile international creators and professionals, while also highlighting the richness of the local Montréal scene, the day by day schedule is now online! 

TUESDAY, AUGUST 20
#Critical Reflection #A/V Practice #Digital Art in the Museum

Forum IMG opens with a keynote address from noted contemporary author and thinker Douglas Rushkoff based on his latest book Team Human, which examines the anti-human agenda embedded in our markets and technologies. Picking up on these threads, artists Bill Posters and Daniel C. Howe present their award-winning work Spectre, and a panel on Data Practice & Network Forensics discusses how the communications infrastructure of our networked world affects our privacy and agency, our democracies and more. Another panel, equally curated by the team of HOLO Magazine, Relief Effort, gathers activists, academics and artists, including noted critical engineer, artist and environmentalist Julian Oliver to consider climate change and ecological footprints inside the context of digital arts and technologies.
A parallel track centers around cutting-edge audiovisual practice as French artist Joanie Lemercier and producer and curator Juliette Bibasse detail The Joy and Struggle of Producing Innovative Light Installations, by unpacking recent well-known pieces to reveal their inner workings and provide candid insights. UK-based artist Lawrence Lek presents Worldbuilding for Non Humans, an in-depth look at his CGI films, open-world simulations and soundtracks, use of fictional artists and artificial protagonists.
Put together by Toronto-based producer Dominic Desjardins of Zazie Films in partnership with Sunny Side of the Doc festival, this first day of Forum IMG also includes a series of encounters and conferences dedicated to innovation in museums, with a focus on the production and circulation of original digital and interactive artworks. Presenters include Chloé Jarry, CEO of Lucid Realities Studio, whose ingenious virtual reality work enabled visitors at Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris to step into Claude Monet’s world; Montréal’s multi-talented Étienne Paquette, known notably for his National Film Board of Canada-produced Beyond Ice installation at the Canadian Museum of Nature; as well as Damjanski and David Lobser, the internet artists who invaded the MoMA in New York with an augmented reality exhibition, MoMAR. 

 

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 21
#AI #A/V Practice #Urban Digital Art #World Building

Artificial intelligence from multiple angles dominates Wednesday’s program with opening keynote Making Kin with the Machines, from Jason Lewis and Suzanne Kite, discussing how Indigenous understandings of relationships to the non-human can open up new possibilities for conceptualizing, designing and implementing AI systems. From a similar perspective, keynote speaker Rumman Chowdhury of Accenture AI addresses the intersection of artificial intelligence and humanity from a quantitative social science background. A conversation on artistic problematics and thrilling potentials from creators working with machine learning convenes Ash KooshaMat ChiversHelena Nikonole and Valérie Bécaert of Montréal company Element AI.
Pursuing the series of presentations from singular artists working across different A/V disciplines, Robert Henke, co-creator of Ableton Live and an artist working in innovative sound, installation and laser works, discusses his most recent work and performance CBM8032AV. Iranian artist Ali Eslami performs his False Mirror virtual reality lecture before joining another HOLO curated panel, Counter Narratives, moderated by British author and journalist Tim Maughan and concerned with world-building, simulation and imaginaries, asking how fiction and immersive media can model possible futures and provide cultural critique through new modes of narrative construction.
This second day of Forum IMG also addresses the notion of The Livable City, a research topic adopted by Montréal key players Quartier des spectacles PartnershipNational Film Board of Canada and Concordia University’s Institute for Urban Futures that explores artistic responses to the challenges urban communities are facing in our fast growing cities. Having worked in public space with consistently humanistic principles for over a decade, Melissa Mongiat from renowned local studio Daily tous les jours presents projects from her considerable portfolio of interactive, social and playful designs. A following panel discussion led by German curator Jasmin Grimm investigates how artistic intervention in the public urban space can transform the citizen’s everyday lives and foster a collective (re)appropriation of the city. 

 

THURSDAY, AUGUST 22
#XR #Immersive Spectacle #Blockchain #Research-Creation

The final day of the Forum inaugurates MUTEK’s 5th XR Salon, reflecting the full spectrum of virtual, augmented and mixed realities, and exploring exciting new forms of immersive spectacle.
Marking 10 years of the National Film Board of Canada’s Interactive Studios, which has produced over 150 works for mobile and public space, virtual reality and AI, Montréal creators Émilie F. GrenierVali Fugulin and Vincent Morisset discuss what it means to make art with NFB/interactive—moderated by IDFA’s Caspar Sonnen.
The following panel, expertly led by Creative Director/Producer and MIT Open Doc Lab affiliate Sandra Rodriguez, sheds light on various angles of XR creation, including the challenges and potentials of combining a strong storyline with the equally engaging and disruptive power of interactivity, with Fable Studio’s Pete Billington, creator of the acclaimed VR piece Wolves in the Walls.
Ana Serrano, founder of the Canadian Film Centre’s Media Lab, hosts a discussion outlining the current state for XR content development and distribution, addressing location-based entertainment, mobile platforms and everything in between—with the participation of local heavyweights Felix & Paul Studios and the Phi Centre, fast-rising distributor Iconic Engine, as well as French production company Atlas V, who have secured promising distribution deals for their award-winning projects, including Spheres (Venice International Film Festival Grand Prize 2018), Vestige (Peabody Award 2019) and Gloomy Eyes (Annecy Cristal 2019). Novel avenues for the generation of revenue for the digital art and entertainment industries via blockchain technologies are examined by the Canada Media Fund, who recently published a comprehensive study on the topic; San Francisco-based platform Breaker; and Ara, a new project by VR distribution giant Little Star Media
Lune Rouge Entertainment’s Alex Barrette dives into the creative potential and challenges involved in designing and animating works for their futuristic venue currently set up in Montréal’s Old Port, PY1. Gabriel Coutu Dumont and Janicke Morissette from Silent Partners Studio present a case study of their inaugural piece for the pyramid, Through the Echoes. This opens onto a wider discussion of visions of the future of immersive collective spectacle with Dominic Audet from Moment Factory, Selma Sabera from Meow Wolf, Julie Bourgeois from Lune Rouge Entertainment, and Lucy Dusgate from The Lowry.

This final day of Forum IMG kicks off a new partnership between MUTEK and Hexagram, a Montréal-based, internationally engaged network dedicated to research-creation in the fields of media arts, design, technology and digital culture. Aiming to build bridges between the fields of education and research— and practitioners of digital arts and industry, this collaboration highlights a series of presentations by Hexagram members, with opening keynotes from Jean Dubois, Co-Director of Hexagram and professor at Université du Québec à Montréal, and Bart Simon, faculty member of Hexagram and professor at Concordia University, where he also directs the Milieux Institute

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