Inner Space - Claudine Hubert recommends

4 - 11 June 2020

  • Pour Inner Space, nous avons demandé à des artistes, commissaires et critiques de nous recommander 10 coups de coeur artistiques. 
  • À vous de découvrir ce que nous propose la commissaire Nathalie Bachand cette semaine!

Listen. Witness. Transmit.


In curatorial work, as in all spheres of life, we accumulate connections that are made up of relationships that are nurtured, filiations that we trace from one project to the next. In this time of isolation, where solitude and anxiety have been daily companions for many of us, I have decided to let myself be guided in my choices by friendship and connections, with the artist or the artwork, or both. I have included in this list friends, artists I know and others I don't, who form a cartography of sorts of my love affair with technological arts, and build up a story that will testify to my interest in the practices of all technologies, even the most artisanal. In June 2018, I attended the Independent Media Arts Alliance conference, organized by the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC) in Saskatoon. They called the meeting "Listen. Witness. Transmit. "and this title resonates very strongly with my approach to curating: the works that most appeal to me respond to these three calls. 


Stepper Motor Choir, by Peter Flemming - 2008

Peter was one of the first artists I accompanied as coordinator at OBORO, during his exhibition Lazy Mode, in 2008. This installation was in the small exhibition room, and activated by daylight coming through the skylight, activating motors to which were attached glass plates. The vibration of the motors made them “sing” in different tonalities, creating a harmonic chorus activated by the light. 


Christina Kubisch, Electrical Walks - continuous since 2003

This German artist belongs to the great tradition of musique concrète and electroacoustic composition. In 2003, drawing from her interest in urban space, she developed a headset that captures the electromagnetic waves of cities and transforms them into sound signals, creating a sound work in continuous reinvention. The series not only connects many cities around the world, it also reveals the ubiquitous and invisible presence of these sound waves via lighting systems, wi-fi, radar systems, anti-theft security devices, surveillance cameras, cell phones, computers, tramway cables, antennas, navigation systems, ATM machines.... She creates walking routes that will always lead listeners to quiet, often secluded places, unknown even to the inhabitants of the city. 


Martine H. Crispo, L'excitation sonore de Zoé T., 2014

Martine is a one-of-a-kind artist - musician, composer, sculptor, video artist, performer. Over many years she has developed a body of work based on the concept of optical sound. For Zoé T.'s performance, she printed patterns on 6 large discs, standing atop tall tripods in a darkened room. She spins them and activates their rhythmic sounds with flashlights, moving from one to the other, almost silent. No frequency generator or oscillator is used, what is heard is the result of a direct pickup of electromagnetic waves from the light radiation. Thanks to an experimental device based on optical sound, her project is directly inspired by the work on "graphic sound" developed by the Russians and Germans from the 1930s and perfected by Daphne Oram and Norman McLaren around the 1950s and 1960s. 


Selma Lepart, R.E.D. (Réponse électrodermale), 2013

Selma Lepart is a French artist who came to Montreal to develop this very delicate project: a black wall in a dark room moves gently, when you walk past it, as if it had goosebumps, not unlike passing a stranger in the street and locking eyes for a second. Selma worked at OBORO on the mechanics behind this work, so I only experimented the prototype. I love the photos of her studio, which reveal the other side of an installation of such streamlined appearance. 


Nadia Myre, Oraison (net), 2014 (retrieved between 03:50 and 04:10)

There are artists who accompany us over long periods of time, by their work, by their presence, by their friendship. Nadia is one of them - I have always followed her work with great attention, since we first met in Saint John, New Brunswick, for the Scar Project. The Orison exhibit was a commission from OBORO and we showed it during an emotionally charged time for all of us. The element I want to highlight here is the red net, in the centre of the exhibit, which is entirely entirely hand-knotted by the artist, and activated by a motor in an up-and-down movement, not unlike a lung in the centre of the exhibition space, giving its breath to the stories that were heard there. 


Verena Friedrich, The Long Now, 2015

An artwork with a very straightforward concept: a machine spits out a round soap bubble in a transparent box, which floats for a long time in suspension in its environment. Viewers are hypnotized by this embodiment of the ephemeral, eagerly watching it float until it bursts. A perfect metaphor for life and our daily uncertainties, The Long Now resonates now more than ever. Verena developed this project during her residency at OBORO, and at the public presentation of the prototype, nearly 20 of us silently held our breath, staring at this simple soap bubble, and when it burst, we let out a communal cry as if we had witnessed an extraordinary disappearance - until the machine blew another identical bubble and we started all over again.


Scott Benesiinaabandan, Blueberry Pie Under a Martian Sky, 2016

I had little interest in virtual reality (VR) until I watched this project by Scott. It was with this work that I understood the potential of VR as an artistic device. This work draws on stories of travel through time and dimensions, and the artist makes perfect use of his medium to communicate the story. It is also a linguistic journey; Benesiinaabandan says the work was inspired by the fact that the expression "blueberry pie" did not exist in the Anishnabemowin language until recently. How will his language evolve to describe the technologies of the future as it has evolved to describe the concept of "pie"?


Ariane Plante, Ici, jaillissent les oiseaux | 2017

I first met Ariane in her role as curator, in New York, at a media art showcase of Quebecois artists. We met in the Fall, and it wasn’t until several months later that we met again by chance, in the wee hours during MUTEK, when the festival was still taking place in June. And it was through MUTEK that our friendship deepened and we discovered our common artistic sensibilities. As a sound artist, she is a meticulous observer of the present moment, of tiny sounds and of voices. This work was produced for the Centre Clark extensive project Truck Stop, which punctuated highway 20 between Montreal and Quebec City with installations and artworks. Ariane's project is part of the tradition of "radio roadmovies"; it unfolds slowly, just like the slow time on the highway between the two cities. The work is in real time, like an invitation from the artist to hear the aural world that surrounds. When we take the time to listen, we discover her humour and poetic sensitivity. 


Anna Ridler, Mosaic Virus, 2019 

When I started working at MUTEK, I was assigned to participate in putting together an exhibition to mark the 20th anniversary of the festival. In just a few months, the team collected a number of installations and I really wanted to include a project using AI, but I didn't know much about it at the time. It was while listening to a podcast by the brilliant American researcher Kate Crawford that I discovered the extraordinary work of the British artist Anna Ridler. Drawing historical parallels between the "tulip madness" that swept the Netherlands and Europe in the 1630s and the current speculation around crypto-currencies, this AI-generated video shows the flowering of tulips in an updated version of a 21st century Dutch still life, where the appearance of the tulip is controlled by the price of bitcoin. "Mosaic" is the name of the virus that causes streaks in the petal, which increased their aesthetic value and contributed to their speculative value at that time. In this piece, the stripes depend on the value of Bitcoin, evolving to show the fluctuations of the market.


KMRU, Continual, 2020

When I arrived at MUTEK I quickly immersed myself in researching art and AI, and in March 2020 we held the AI Lab in Montreal, an incubator and residency program that brought together about fifteen artists from around the world. That's how I got to know the practice of the Kenyan musician KMRU, and through him, the electronic music scene in East Africa. This composer was inspired in his artistic journey by his grandfather, Joseph Kamaru, a benga and gospel musician, an activist and a Kenyan national hero. KMRU tells the story of his relationship to his grandfather's music here. Upon his return to Kenya after the AI Lab - and in as the world settled into pandemic confinement - KMRU released the EP Continual, which is a listening work, almost like a radio piece. It was for me one of those wonderful moments of discovery, art that carries the promise of friendship.


4 - 11 June 2020