Collective Musical Energy
To navigate the MUTEK Edition 22 website for more details, please visit the following link:
After an entirely hybrid first edition last year with in-person activities for the Montréal public and a new virtual component for audiences everywhere, MUTEK came back in full force with an even more assertive and dense hybrid format in 2021. For the first time in its history, the Festival and its professional component MUTEK Forum were held for over more than one week, in order to increase the number of possible intersections between artists, audiences and artisans in the field.
In its virtual extension on the dedicated virtual.mutek.org platform, the Festival broadcasted a selection of 28 performances captured in Montréal as well as 38 recordings from its network of international partners, according to the presentation schedule running from Tuesday, August 24 to Saturday, September 4 2021, and the opportunity to review the whole thing in archives until September 30 2021. A virtual gallery featuring 24 digital works enriched the experience offered to Internet users, while it was available from August 24 to September 30 2021.
The Play series—the Festival’s experiential component— came back for the second year in a row inside of Place des Arts’ Cinquième Salle and offered two double programs per evening from Tuesday, August 24 to Friday, August 27. These 16 performances, all world premieres, highlighted Montreal’s expertise and cutting-edge talent in digital art, audiovisual creation and electronic music. A total of 36 local contemporary artists joined the public in this space for experimentation that provided a remarkable audiovisual experience. They also had the opportunity to share the culmination of a year of introspection and creative exploration, which resulted in performances full of renewed imagination and striking offerings.
Play 1 - Myriam Boucher & Kathy Hinde CA/QC+UK — LITTORAL
LITTORAL is a performance by Myriam Boucher and Kathy Hinde combining sculptural objects, sound and light. This audiovisual piece explores concepts concerned with rising sea levels by incorporating scientific data around coastal erosion, thermal expansion, sediment compaction and climate change. The result of residencies in Montréal (at MUTEK 2018) and in the UK (at the Cryptic Cove Park residency), LITTORAL seeks to explore boundaries and edges by inhabiting the spaces in between.
Play 2 - Priori & Jason Voltaire CA/QC
Armed with a deep respect for ever-shifting permutations of techno and IDM, Priori's productions morph and shift with every release, channelling murky acid lines, trance-influenced euphoria, and spacey, organic breakbeats. Propulsive, unique dance music pierces the veil of musical reality to open up new spaces. For this 22nd edition, Priori will be premiering for the first time a unique live ambient set, specially created for the festival and accompanied by visuals from Jason Voltaire.
Play 3 - Montreal Life Support & Woulg UK/QC+CA/QC — Empty Vessels
Uniquely complex AV performance, Empty Vessels merges robotics, AI neural networks, classical instrumentation and experimental metaphysics. Custom-built by Montreal Life Support in order to play each string at the same time, three sophisticated robotic structures cradles as many cellos placed at the center of the installation; linked together by Woulg’s intricate web of algorithms, these automatons will independently compose evolving yet synthetic harmonies, transcending the very artists who gave them life.
Play 4 - Lucas Paris & Alexis Langevin-Tétrault FR/QC+CA/QC — square one
Born from a desire to reunite, both musically and in person after a year of lockdowns, Lucas Paris and Alexis Langevin-Tétrault return to the core of their collaboration with square one, a streamlined audiovisual performance. With modular synthesizers, the duo simultaneously projects audio and light on a simple square, immersing spectators in a sensory experience assembled from sound and light abstractions. The approach aims to reconnect with the origins of electronic music, recontextualized through a contemporary approach and tools.
The 22nd edition marked the return of the Expérience series, presented on an outdoor stage from August 24 to 29. Celebrating the plurality of electronic music, the series was free of charge with a simple on-site registration that respects health measures. On the program is a joyful and festive outdoor celebration that included 25 live performances and DJ sets and explored the nuances of electronic music: from ambient with Echönymphia and YlangYlang to techno with Debbie Doe and OJPB, and house with G L O W Z I and Gene Tellem.
Instruments and special guests animated several performances: Poirier, accompanied by musicians for a hybrid set of his latest album, MAYSUN, was in duo with his drums, as well as the improvisation-loving sextet, Presqu'île.
Along with loyal Festival artists such as Claire & Alicia Hush and vigliensoni, several emerging talents from local artistic communities, such as Bénédicte, Ellxandra, and RONY — noticed by none other than Tim Hecker — will bring an inspiring breath of fresh air to energize the last days of summer.
Finally, to conclude each evening, an artist from the indoor programming offered a DJ set of his/her/their best productions and original compositions: Montrealers Ouri, Martyn Bootyspoon and Jump Source (Priori & Patrick Holland) was joined by Toronto's Ciel and Vancouver’s Yu Su.
Bénédicte CA/QC Billy Dalessandro US/QC Ciel CN/CA Claire & Alicia Hush CA/QC Debbie Doe LB/QC Echönymphia CA/QC+CN/QC Ellxandra CA/QC Gene Tellem CA/QC G L O W Z I CA/QC Jump Source CA/QC (oum CA/QCL Lyndsie Alguire CA Martyn Bootyspoon CA/QC MAYSUN CA/QC NPNP CA/QC OJPB FR/QC Ouri FR/QC Poirier CA/QC Presqu'île CA/QC RONY HT/QC Softmatter RU/QC V.ictor CA/QC vigliensoni CL/QC Yu Su CA
The Nocturne series featured three programs of four shows presented at MTELUS from Friday, August 27 to Sunday, August 29. These 12 performances, most of which are world premieres, showcased the talents of about twenty artists. Reimagined as an electronic cabaret, Nocturne continues to focus on more rhythmic forms and brought festivalgoers together in an immersive and convivial atmosphere.
Phèdre is an electronic duo from Tkaronto/Toronto featuring Daniel Lee and April Aliermo. Originating in experimental pop realms, their richly textured compositions have grown into instrumental sets of high-bpm rhythmic soundscapes, performed live using sequencers and synthesizers. The ever-changing bass-heavy sets pay tribute to club, breakbeat, jungle and techno while maintaining Phèdre’s own unique sense of musical beat exploration.
For this year’s MUTEK, Montréal-based musicians Jason Voltaire and Stephen Ramsay debut their new live electronic act, Plumbing. After discovering a mutual love of thicc music and well-delivered shocks to a specific order of primates, they convened in Ramsay’s studio in a low-key fashion for the better part of two years, improvising filthy tracks on analog synths and drum machines into the small hours of the night. Characterized by blinding energy and chaos, Plumbing’s MUTEK set will be their world premiere.
Ciel CN/CA — First Light
This year at MUTEK, Toronto-based DJ, producer and promoter, Ciel (Cindy Li) unveils her debut live set. Composed of new productions along with some of her favourite past compositions, Ciel’s live performance will feature the same refined melodic sensibility and hard-hitting rhythms found in her DJ sets. Expect a wide range of genres, from ambient to jungle, with a few surprises thrown in.
Alex Mc Mahon CA/QC — Humeurs Modulantes
For many of us, music acted as a sort of cathartic outlet to drive out pandemic-related anxiety and depression. For Alex Mc Mahon, who has primarily been working in the studio since his children were born, confinement presented a golden opportunity to delve into the spontaneous side of musical creation. The fruit of it all became Humeurs modulantes, entirely produced from the infinite possibilities and happy accidents provided by modular synthesizers.
JOYFULTALK CA — A Separation of Being
A Separation of Being — not division or rupture, but buoyant freedom through conduction of circulatory energies — is a three-part live suite interlocking arcs of polyrhythmic groove and contemporary minimalism, gathering warmth from the strings and peculiarities of JOYFULTALK’s bespoke instrumentation and analog clockworks. The performance will be visually enriched by The Planetary Music System, Jay Crocker’s own methodology for visual composition — a 5’x10’ mural featuring geometric multi-directional cycles of brightly-coloured, finely-detailed sound notation.
All is Well CA/QC — A Break in Time
For his first live show, All is Well (aka Fred Everything) will perform his new album - A Break In Time, an ambient album written during the lockdown as a sort of calming therapy/meditation exercise. The project quickly took form with a unique sonic identity and message inspired by this feeling isolation that we all felt during this last year. This album is about fragility/naivety. Contemplation of our vulnerability but also of our resilience and the feeling of alone/together.
The virtual exhibition: Fostering technological change
First launched 22 years ago, MUTEK is an electronic-music and audiovisual-performance festival that has continued to grow and diversify by keeping pace with technological developments and supporting its artistic communities, which themselves are in a constant state of change. Since the Festival’s 20th anniversary in 2019, it has made exhibitions a core component of its programming, allowing the public to discover various works presented at partner institutions across Montréal. In 2020, the pandemic shifted those initiatives into virtual spaces, with the launch of the virtual.mutek.org gallery as a new platform for presenting original digital works. As the world continues to resettle into a new equilibrium, the virtual exhibition that took part in MUTEK’s 22nd edition specifically highlighted attributes native to the web that make it a tool for creation and a preferred medium of dissemination.
MUTEK’s exhibition took place in a hybrid format: a physical and a virtual component,Virtual Wonders, was unveiled.
Artists confirmed for the exhibition:
Adonia Bouchehri DE — Jello Anna Eyler et Nicolas Lapointe CA/QC — D.o.t.T.D (Dance of the Techno-Demons) Bomi Yook KR/CA — Dream Machine Brad Todd CA/QC — 3050 K Cinzia Campolese IT/QC — Idle (online version) Commonolithic & Olivia Mc Gilchrist UK/QC+JM/FR/QC — World Space V2 Ender Gallery CA — Ender Gallery Minecraft Artist Residency Entangled OthersDE — This Jellyfish Does Not Exist Eva Papamargariti GR/UK Jawa El Khash SY/CA — Hammam Libby Heaney UK — FIGURES, £igur€$, go figure!? Matt DesLauriers CA/UK — Wayfinder Meagan ByrneCA — Wanisinowin|Lost Memo Akten TR — The Awesome Machinery of Nature Nicole He US — ENHANCE.COMPUTER Nirma Madhoo ZA — Azimuth Noah Pred CA/DE — Panarchae Raphaël Moreira Gonçalves FR — M.I.T.M. Stéphanie Castonguay & PRIFMA CA/QC+AR — Solar BodiesSteven Sych & Timothy Thomasson CA/QC — Telephone Paintings Studio Everywhen (Brad Necyk x Jonathan Kawchuk) CA — ALL SKY, MIRROR OCEAN Taylor McArthur CA — Line of SightUrsula J'vlyn d'Ark US/QC — Ecotone Wenxin Zhang CN — Inorganic Mysteries
Nicole He US — ENHANCE.COMPUTER
ENHANCE.COMPUTER is a cyberpunk yelling-at-computer game. The game is an homage to the classic science fiction "zoom and enhance" trope. Using voice commands, the user can navigate the screen to find a secret code and win. ENHANCE.COMPUTER plays with themes of surveillance and techno-dystopias. The game was created as to aspire towards new ways of using voice-assisted technologies in creative projects.
Taylor McArthur CA — Line of Sight
Line of Sight is an immersive WebGL experience in which the user is invited to navigate throughout the terrain, which is a manifestation of the artist’s past experiences. The game is situated in the contemporary genre of walking simulators, which trade reward systems and fast-paced gameplay for contemplative immersion. The artist invites the player into her visual vernacular, a juxtaposition of digital naturalism with neon shapes and geometric patterns. Together these forms represent the artist’s own memories, while illustrating her perspective on reminiscence. Line of Sight is an immersive personal reflection upon identity, memory and their ties to the land.
Taylor McArthur’s work is co-presented with the Mackenzie Gallery.
Eva Papamargariti GR/UK — As They Were Drifting Away, Their Bodies Turned Into Wave
L'œuvre vidéo d'Eva Papamargariti, As they were drifting away, their bodies turned into waves, se concentre sur la dialectique de la fluidité et du mouvement, et sur l'enchevêtrement entre les corps-critères et les traces laissées lorsqu'ils flottent, coulent, se dispersent et sont rejetés dans et hors de l'eau. Son œuvre tente de manifester la manière dont le moi et les désirs émergent au milieu de flux politiques, géologiques et technologiques constants. Comment cette dérive peut-elle créer un nouveau paradigme permettant la coexistence par des formes d'action symbiotiques ?
Avec le soutien de la Fondation Stavros Niarchos (SNF)
Commonolithic & Olivia Mc Gilchrist UK/QC + JM/FR/QC — World Space V2
World Space V2 is a WebVR experience that offers a playful perspective of navigating the gravitational pull of a large object as a small sphere in 3D space. Accessed through Mozilla Hubs, the work affords a moment of flaneur-like exploration in the company of a broken toy as a celestial body, surrounded by sounds evoking the object’s materiality.
This work is presented in collaboration with the Société des arts technologiques [SAT] and designed for the platform SATELLITE.
Ender Gallery CA — Ender Gallery Minecraft Artist Residency
Odanak – at the Village is an installation and custom texture pack informed by Simon M. Benedict's ancestral community. Drawing from Kinaw8la – She Takes Care of You, an educational booklet co-authored by his sister Evelyne Benedict and Donna O’Bomsawin, Benedict’s exhibition remixes the default Minecraft environment to incorporate medicinal plants – both native and non-native – currently present on Odanak Abenaki territory. The exhibition features representations of both the natural and built environments of Odanak, reckoning with the ongoing colonial project as it pertains to the Abenaki people. In the wake of recent conversations regarding the Canadian residential school system, Benedict’s project addresses this history while creating virtual spaces for education and healing.
Entangled Others DE — This Jellyfish Does Not Exist
This Jellyfish Does Not Exist is an interactive meditation on jellyfish. As the user clicks, neurally generated specimens of jelly appear on the screen. An uncanny experience of creatures without faces, these artificial lifeforms mirror their online representation and limits thereof. As mysterious as the deepest parts of the ocean, the fish prove to be intangible beings, constantly morphing their corporeal traits.
Memo Akten TR — The Awesome Machinery of Nature: We are all connected
The Awesome Machinery of Nature: We are all connected is an abstract film, an experimental simulation and computational composition that celebrates the interconnectedness of all living and non-living things across many scales of time and space – from the interactions of sub-atomic particles and oscillations in the quantum fields that permeate space-time; to the formation of matter and stars; to the emergence and evolution of life from inanimate matter, and the cosmic webs that connect us all.
MUTEK Festival 2021 in a few figures
- 262 artists from 27 countries.
- 59 performances and digital art performances in three venues and on an outdoor stage at Tiohtià:ke/Montréal.
- In total, 24 interactive, audiovisual, mixed reality, virtual or augmented digital works by local and international artists were presented both outdoors and indoors. gallery, including 9 open access premieres (11 local works, 15 international works).
- 10,882 people registered on the virtual.mutek.org platform from 55 countries