August 18, 2021

PREVIEW: MILIEUX @ MUTEK 2021

MUTEK Montreal, an annual festival and forum dedicated to the presentation of electronic music and audiovisual art, returns for its 22nd edition from August 24th to September 5th.

This year, MUTEK is adopting a hybrid virtual-live approach for its programming, presenting work both in-person in Montreal and virtually via an online events space. This hybridity feels less like a compromise than it does an ideal condition for a festival interested in pushing the boundaries of the digital, and using electronics to bring us closer together. It also feels like an apt model for the presentation of work emerging from Milieux—work by graduate students and faculty that is both digital and tactile, material and ephemeral. 

Macro/Micro_Whakapapa, by Miranda Smitheram


Maurice Jones—a new PhD student member at the Institute—curated the AI section of the online forum, Exploring Imaginaries of Artificial Intelligence, featuring Ars Electronica’s FutureLab, compelling artist Q&As and researcher panels, and many more exciting presentations and experiences. Milieux’s own Orit Halpern is a part of this programming, as the keynote presenter with Benjamin Bratton (University of California San Diego), The Artificial and the Synthetic: Intelligence, Language, Model on August 24th, 12 PM, at the very start of the online forum.

Jacqueline Beaumont, Miranda Smitheram, and past member WhiteFeather Hunter, will be taking part in the panel Mediating the Future of Fashion: E-Textiles and Biotechnology. Recent work by both Beaumont and Smitheram explore the tension between the materiality of textiles and the mediated nature of virtual space—take Smitheram’s lively Macro/Micro_Whakapapa (pictured above), where a draped piece of fabric holds the projected image of a morphing, shifting digital cloth.

Elsewhere at MUTEK, Dr. Rilla Khaled of the Technoculture, Arts and Games cluster has curated a project compilation featuring work by TAG members Enric Granzotto Llagostera, Jess Rowan Marcotte, and Steven Sych. Marcotte’s game TRACES fits right into the hybrid space—it’s a “physical-digital hybrid game about trans experiences and time travel.” Llagostera’s work also involves the player in their own space: in his game COOK YOUR WAY, cooking becomes a sort of standardized test, exposing oppressive co-operation of capitalist multiculturalism and immigration authorities.

The TAG project compilation is part of a larger slate of programming by Hexagram called New Frontiers of Digital and Audiovisual Creation. Also featured in Hexagram’s program are new work by Milieux’s Olivia McGilchrist, and the SENSEFACTORY, a large-scale performative installation including work by Chris Salter and Alexandre Saulnier. The SENSEFACTORY promises a sort of audio-visual journey for its participants—it’s an exciting prospect, one we’re eager to follow during the festival.

Check out the full MUTEK program here, and stay tuned for more coverage of Milieux’s participation in the festival!