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MUTEK Forum Edition 7

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The MUTEK Forum came back for its seventh edition from Tuesday, August 24 to Thursday, September 2 on our virtual platform. This marketplace of ideas brought together artists and companies from the digital creation and electronic music fields to explore the most innovative artistic practices while stimulating reflection on the ethical and political issues related to technology and the digital world. Seven themes were explored by more than 100 local and international speakers through 60 activities.

Dive into the fields of expertise covered:

XR, Immersive and Experiential Storytelling

As the opening keynote of the 7th edition of the XR Salon, MUTEK was thrilled to host creator Sabrina Calvo — whose portfolio includes everything from poetry and novels to video games, XR and fashion — for an inspiring keynote and conversation, together with researcher sava saheli singhwho uses speculative fiction to critically examine the effects of technology and techno-utopianism on society — on why we should free ourselves from the conventional limitations of “storytelling” and explore new ways of telling the stories that matter today.

Another special program focused on THE INFINITE PHI Studio’s and Felix & Paul Studios' latest project — which blends original VR content shot on the International Space Station with a unique vision for operating and monetizing large-scale immersive exhibition ventures.

Furthermore, the XR Salon put its focus on the circulation and distribution of XR works, examining the results of a recent study undertaken by Québec/Canada XR that was spearheaded by Montréal-based creative director and producer Sandra Rodriguez, who is also a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (HackingXR) affiliate. Antoine Cayrol, who is the co-founder and head of the distribution division of French production powerhouse Atlas V, Chinese market expert and director of Sandbox Immersive Festival, Eddie Lou, producer Chloé Jarry, who specializes in location-based experiences with her company Lucid Realities, and award-winning Brazilian director Ricardo Laganaro of ARVORE Immersive Experiences joined the discussion.

Last but certainly not least, expanding beyond the realm of XR into a much larger scale of experiential storytelling, the Forum hosted Google’s Ryan Howard and Tina Blakeney of ThinkwellStudio Montréal, who unveiled their new collaboration, which focused on rethinking audience journeys when delivering physical experiences.

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Exploring Imaginaries of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence came back as a recurring thread at the 7th edition of the Forum. This year’s event brought together a group of international speakers to explore diverse imaginaries of AI, including a keynote by Benjamin Bratton, author of the influential MIT book The Stack, whose upcoming publication The Revenge of the Real studies the future of politics in a post-pandemic world and AI’s role within it.

A panel presented in collaboration with Ars Electronica’s FutureLab dived into the topic of cross-cultural approaches to collaborative composing between humans and machines, critically investigating the question of autonomy and human intention in the creative application of AI. Hosted by renowned AI music researcher Ali Nikrang, it featured Japanese sound artist Yuri Suzuki, Mexican-Canadian interdisciplinary artist and producer Isabella Salas, and digital culture researcher and writer Maya Indira Ganesh.

Another set of short presentations offered insights into AI’s impact on the future of music, the digital arts, and XR, showcasing practical approaches toward algorithmic co-creation. Participating creators include former MUTEK AI Art Lab advisor Nao Tokui, Keychange cohort member and expert in copyright questions Celine Garcia, creative coder and experimental poet Sarah Ciston, and audiovisual artist Noah Pred.

New Frontiers in Digital Art and Sound

In 2021, we were proud to team up once again with the AMPLIFY Digital Arts Initiative, an ambitious international project led by the British Council aimed at building an active network of women-identified artists and practitioners across Latin America, Canada, and the UK. In addition to a panel on the use of sonic intensity in electronic music and digital arts, MUTEK Forum featured a series of presentations on the projects that resulted from the AMPLIFY D.A.I Collaboration Fund, hosted by Antimodular Research’s Karine Charbonneau.

Another partnership highlighted at MUTEK 2021 was Hexagram, an interdisciplinary network—spanning eight Québec-based educational institutions—dedicated to research-creation practices that address the relationship between art, culture and technology. Out of the more than 300 Hexagram members, 26 have been selected to feature their latest projects at the Forum, in the form of short videos, with the goal of highlighting experimental and critical perspectives, sharing knowledge, connecting artistic and scientific disciplines, and strengthening the links between academia and the cultural sector.

Last but not least, several Q&As with artists who took part in the festival have been confirmed, including Montréal and Marseille-based digital artist Sabrina Ratté, who was shortlisted for Canada’s prestigious Sobey Art Award in both 2019 and 2020.

Music Matters

Last year, we shined a light on the pressing ecological concerns with a series of events hosted by EarthPercent, a brand new environmental sustainability charity co-founded by Brian Eno. EarthPercent’s Love Ssega and electronic music veteran Matthew Herbert will reflect on the process of moving from awareness to action, as well as its impact on an artist’s career. Other activities will engage participants in a direct and interactive discussion of these issues with guests from Client Earth, A Greener Festival and Music Declares Emergency, as well as German music executive producer and entrepreneur, and founder of !K7 Music, Horst Weidenmüller.

A closer look will also be given to data-driven decision-making in the music industry with a panel featuring French strategist Julie Knibbe and Keychange innovator Ievgeniia Ivanova, as well as a workshop on musicians’ digital sovereignty offered by online marketing experts Click & Mortar.

From the festival’s performance program, a series of Q&As will feature artists such as French-Tunisian performer Deena Abdelwahed and Canadian multi-instrumentalist Yu Su, who will both be interviewed by music journalist Sarah Mackenzie, as well as Polish composer Joanna Duda, a participant of the current Keychange cohort, whom MUTEK is hosting once again at the festival. Another session will bring together the artists who have benefited from the first Avatar-MUTEK production residencies: Pierre-Luc Lecours, Ida Toninato and Alex Tibbitts.

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Fashion and Art for Our Futures

This edition of the Forum explored fashion’s substance as a medium to tell stories, stimulate interaction and participation, and prototype possible futures. We offered an exclusive glimpse into the exciting works of Montréal creator and UQAM professor Ying Gao, who was in conversation with Joanna Berzowska from Concordia University’s Milieux Institute.

Furthermore, we partnered up with Eastern Bloc — who have added championing Montréal’s influential role in the fashion industry to their eclectic mandate — to present a panel hosted by Concordia University’s Miranda Smitheram on the adventurous alliances between textiles, electronics and biotechnology, featuring artists and designers working at the forefront of new materialities.

Another highlight is a keynote conversation that brought together the bionic pop artist and creative director Viktoria Modesta, whose multidisciplinary practice is fuelled by her continuous exploration of personal, creative, and technological frontiers, and American writer and publisher David Hershkovits, co-founder of the influential Paper magazine and host of the Light Culture podcast.

New Models for Presentation and Monetization

In collaboration with MacKenzie Art Gallery, MUTEK Forum invited the audience to discover one of those communities through the participation of Canadian curators Sarah Friend, Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll, who created Ender Gallery, an exhibition space and artist residency that exists inside the game Minecraft.

Blockchain—a technology we have featured in past Forum editions—has caught the attention of the arts and creative industries alike with the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Are NFTs a sustainable solution for artists to sell their work and control its ownership online or yet another method of exploiting creative professionals? We will bring together illustrious experts, such as Michael Casey—Chief Content Officer at CoinDesk and Senior Advisor at the MIT Media Lab's Digital Currency Initiative—to shed light on the potential impact of blockchain and other disruptive tech on our markets and societies.

Taking on the NFT question from a digital art world angle, one panel was moderated by artist and curator Joe Cutts and brought together Eliane Ellbogen, intellectual property lawyer and founder of digital art centre Eastern Bloc, Cadie Desbiens-Desmeules, a Canadian artist known under the name of Push 1 stop, and New York-based art market expert Elena Zavelev, who is the founder and CEO of the Crypto and Digital Art Fair (CADAF). Together, they will look beyond the recent hype and provide our community of creators with a better understanding of the ethics, hazards and opportunities of this new method of sustaining digital art.

And focussing more on the music industry side of things, another panel was led by journalist Shawn Reynaldo, creator of the First Floor newsletter, and included a set of industry experts such as Canadian artist Jacques Greene, who recently auctioned the publishing rights of one of his tracks as NFT, and the Foundation platform’s Head of Community, Lindsey Howard.

Digital Detox

Reinforcing the Forum’s potential to critically reflect on our life with technology, MUTEK launched a new public education and exhibition project, Digital Detox, with the support from the City of Montréal and the Canada Council for the Arts.

Looking at essential issues like digital well-being, data collection, and ecological impacts of technologies, one of the program’s focal points will be delivered by the German collective Tactical Tech — presented in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut. The Forum program will include a keynote by Safa Ghnaim on how to gain control over your online presence as well as two online workshops: both by Muhammad Radwan, one will be on the topic of Living with Algorithms, whereas the other will reflect with participants on realistic expectations for the technologies they use, and introduce them to alternative apps.

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Goethe photo Alexis Bellavance 008

A Virtual Market for Creative Minds and Connexions

In its second year of fully embracing a hybrid format, MUTEK Forum extended its virtual market activities, which aimed to connect Québec and Canadian and international artists with creative companies, festivals, curators, promoters, and cultural organizations and institutions. The market is an opportunity for participants to stand out in the milieu, explore the latest in digital artistic practices and engage in inspiring conversations with peers. More than 100 companies and organizations from 38 countries have participated including:

Abuja Art Week NI Amplify Music US AnD Festival UK Ars Electronica AT Art Center NABI KR Arts at CERN CH ARTYPICAL RU Baltic Contemporary Music Network EE Beatclub US Beyond The Frame JPB39 KR Casa Axxon US Chilemusica CL Chronus Arts Center CN Circulart CO Citizen City AUS CPH:DOX DK Creative Economy Agency TH CTM Festival DE c/o pop DE Digi.logue TR Discwoman US Ditto Music FuturX AR EKKO Festival NO Electric South SA Endemico MX Estonian Composers’ Union EE Fabbula FRFak'ugesi Festival SA FilmGate Miami US FIMPRO MX Fridaymilk RU Future Everything UK GiiÖii KR Gray Area US HELLERAU - European Centre for the Arts DE Hong Kong Arts Center CN IMESUR CL IMI Chile CL Inphase US Insomnia Festival NO Institute for Sound and Music DE Intonal Festival SE Inversia Festival RU Irtijal Festival LB Justice Fund US Kaohsiung VR Film Lab TW Keychange CA Linecheck Festival IT Lunchmeat Festival CZ LyricFind US Magnetic Asia CN Magnetic Fields Festival IND MaMA Festival FR Media Architecture Institute & Biennale AUS Meet Factory CZ MIGZ Festival RU MONOM DEMuseum of Transitory Art SI Musikcentrum Öst SE MUTEK.AE AE MUTEK.AR AR MUTEK.ES ES MUTEK.JP JP MUTEK.MX MX MUTEK.SF US New Media Caucus RU NEW NOW DE NIFFF CH NODE Forum DE Norient DE Novas Frequencias BR NRMAL Festival MX O Cinema US ORF AT Refraction CAN Reworks Festival GRRotondes Festival LU Semibreve Festival PT Somerset House Studios UK Sónar ES Sónar Hong Kong CNSonica Glasgow UK Splice US Streaming Museum US SXSW US Taipei Digital Center TW The Bass Valley ES TPAM JP transmediale DE Twitch Partnerships US Urban Screens Production AUS Virtuality ARVRHAM! DE WAVLNGHT IND WISE CN xtopia TR York Mediale UK

This edition marked the beginning of a new collaboration with Air Canada for Business as a Program Partner, which presented the programming team’s official selection of 20 Québec and Canadian artists, all embodying the most cutting-edge developments in the national artistic community. In addition to benefiting from specific support in training and presentation, these artists will be offered 1-on-1 meetings with international buyers throughout the Forum dates.

Official market selection - presented by Air Canada for Business

Alex Tibbitts US/QC Brad Todd CA/QC Ciel CN/QC Cinzia Campolese IT/QC France Jobin CA/QC GOLPESAR CA/QC Jeremy Rotsztain CA/US Jonathan Kawchuk CA/QC Lucas Paris CA/QC Martin Bootyspoon CA/QC Matthew Cardinal CA Myriam Bleau CA/QC Myriam Boucher CA/QC Olivia Mc Gilchrist FR/JA/QC Phèdre CA Pierre-Luc Lecours CA/QC Stéphanie Castonguay CA/QCThisquietarmy CA/QC Woulg CA/QC Xuan Ye CN/CA

Beyond Canadian artists, a selection of 50 innovative projects in digital creativity and electronic music was presented, hand-picked by the Forum’s past and present partners. The virtual market also featured a number of thematic roundtables, offering a unique opportunity to network and interact directly with Forum speakers, industry experts and other participants in a privileged and interactive context.

Speakers and Moderators:

Ælab CA/QC Ahreum Lee KR/QC Alejandra Cárdenas (Ale Hop) PE/DE Ali Nikrang AT — Ars Electronica Futurelab Alexander Scholz CA — HOLO Alex Tibbitts US/QC Amanda Gutierrez MX/QC — Concordia University Analucia Roeder PE Andrea LudovicVE Andrée Martin CA/QC Anouk Wipprecht NL/US Antoine Cayrol FR — ATLAS V Barney Steel UK — Marshmallow Laser Feast Benjamin Bratton US — University of California San Diego Cat Bluemke CA — Ender Gallery Celine Garcia FR — Puppet Master Label & Publishing Centre de recherche TAG BR/QC+CA/QC Claire L. Evans US Claire O’Neill UK — A Greener Festival David Hershkovits US — Cultural Content Consultancy Deena Abdelwahed TN/FR Eddie Lou CN — Sandbox Immersive Festival Edy Fung (Quantum Foam) HK/UK Elena Zavalev US — CADAF Eliane Ellbogen CA/QC — Fasken Erin Gee CA/QC Estelle Schorpp FR/QC Feli Cabrera López CO/AR Félix Lajeunesse CA/QC — Félix & Paul Studios Fereshteh Toosi IR/US — Florida International University Flor de Fuego (Florencia Maria Alonso) AR Fossilation CA/QC Frances Adair Mckenzie CA/QC Gabrielle Harnois-Blouin CA/QC Guillaume Pascale CA/QC Grand River IT/NL Greg J. Smith CA — HOLO Gwendal Creurer FR/QC — Société des arts technologiques Huidi Xiang CN/US Ida Toninato FR/QC Ievgeniia Ivanova PL/UA — ARNOVA Isabella Salas MX/QC — Isabella Salas Studio Isla Angus UK — Client Earth Jacqueline Beaumont CA/QC — Concordia University Jana Müller DE — Deutsches Museum Nuremberg Jean Dubois & Ghyslain Gagnon CA/QC Jean-Patrice Rémillard (Pheek)CA/QC Jenny Maritza Ramirez Osorio (Jennitza) AR Joanna Berzowska CA/QC — Concordia University Joanna Duda PL Joaquina Salgado AR John Connell UK/DE+US — Soundworks Jonathan Carroll CA — Ender Gallery Julie Knibbe FR — Music Tomorrow Julie Tremblay CA/QC — PHI Juliette Lusven FR/QC Kanta Dihal NL/UK — University of Cambridge Karine Charbonneau CA/QC — Rafael Lozano-Hemmer Studio Katja Melzer CA/QC — Goethe-Institut Montréal Ké Medley CA/QC Kiran Bhumber CA Kyle Duffield CA Laurence Dolbec CA/QC — National Film Board of Canada Lewis Jamieson UK — Music Declares Emergency Libby Heaney UK Louis-Philippe Rondeau CA/QC Louise Hisayasu DE — Tactical Tech Love SsegaUK — EarthPercent Lucas LaRochelle CA/QC — Queering The Map Lukas Volz DE — University of Cologne Magdalena Molinari AR Mara Gourd-Mercado CA/QC — Académie canadienne du cinéma et de la télévision Marc-André Cossette CA/QC Marie Brassard CA/QC — Infrarouge Matthew Herbert UK Maude Thibodeau CA/QC — Dpt. Maya Indira Ganesh IN/DE+UK — University of Cambridge Maxime Boutin FR/QC Mélanie O'Bomsawin CA/QC Memo Akten TR Michael Casey US — CoinDesk Mimi Allard CA/QC Miranda Smitheram NZ/QC — Concordia University Monica Lopez De Victoria US — Lopez De Victoria Studio LLC Muhammad Radwan DE — Tactical Tech Nancy Lee CA Nao Tokui JP — Qosmo Nathalie Bachand CA/QC Nedine Moonsamy ZA — University of Pretoria Nicolas Bernier CA/QC Nicolas Reeves & David St-Onge CA/QC Noah Pred CA/DE — Manifest Audio GbR Olivia Klawonn US Olivia Mc Gilchrist FR/JM/QCOlivier J. Bergeron CA/QC — Click & Mortar Orit Halpern US/QC — Concordia University Patrick Haggart CA/QC Philippe Bédard CA/QC — Québec/Canada XR Pierre-Luc Lecours CA/QC Qianqian Ye CN/US — Processing Foundation Ralf Eger DE — ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe Richard Chartier US rkss (Robin Buckley) UK Ryan Howard US — Google Sabrina Calvo FR/QC Sabrina Ratté QC/FR Safa Ghnaim US/DE — Tactical Tech Sandra Rodriguez CA/QC — MIT (HackingXR) Sandra Volny FR/CZ/QC Sarah Ciston US — University of Southern California Sarah Friend CA/DE — Ender Gallery Sarah Mackenzie CA/QC sava saheli singh CA — University of Ottawa Sense Factory CA/QC+DE Shari Frilot US — Sundance Film Festival Shonee Arroyo-Kreimes CR/QC Sofian Audry & TeZ CA/QC+IT/NL Sol Rezza AR Takashi Ikegami JP — University of Tokyo Tatiana Heuman AR/DE Thomas Azoug FR/QC — PHI Tina Blakeney AU/QC — Thinkwell Studio Montréal Vicky Clarke UK Viktoria Modesta UK/US Vivian Marthell US — O Cinema WhiteFeather Hunter CA — SymbioticA / The University of Western Australia x/o CA Xiaowei Wang US — Logic Magazine Yan Breuleux CA/QC Yannick Hofmann DE — ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe Ying Gao CA/QC — Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Yu Su CN/CA Yuri Suzuki JP/UK — Pentagram Design

MUTEK would like to thank its partners, who played a key role in the maintenance and development of its activities and have provided particular support towards the creation of the Forum.

The Government of Québec, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the ministère du Tourisme du Québec, the Secrétariat à la région métropolitaine du gouvernement du Québec, the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, the City of Montréal, FACTOR and Canada's private radio broadcasters, the Department of Canadian Heritage, Musicaction, the British Council, the Consulat général de France à Québec, the Goethe-Institut, Tourisme Montréal, Air Canada for Business, HOLO, Soundworks, BeatConnect, Zú, Society for Arts and Technology.

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