Arts Numeriques brings digital art North

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The Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) will be showing the work of three Montreal-based multimedia artists next week.

NACC reopened after the holidays on Wednesday, and is kicking off the new year with Arts Numeriques, meaning Digital Arts, next Saturday, Jan. 12. The 7:30 p.m. show will feature a pre-performance in the lobby by local group Miraj, followed by performances from Myriam Bleau and Martin Messier, and a screening of Herman Kolgen’s short film LINK.C.

Photo courtesy of Herman Kolgen.
This image is from Kolgen’s film LINK.C which explores the connections between humans and their environment. The film will be shown at NACC as part of Arts Numeriques next weekend.

Myriam Bleau, will be performing a work called autopsy.glass. According to her website the performance “explores the sonic, visual and symbolic potential of the wine glass.”

Martin Messier will perform a piece called Field, which he describes as “kind of abstract.”

“It’s a sound and light performance I would say, where I’m starting at the beginning of this first performance to just plug cables into some patch,” said Messier.

“Just think about the old telephone job of patching cable between different important outputs so people can connect together,” he said. “And this show is a little bit about this — connecting things together.”

But at the same time, he uses the connections of patches and cables to create an instrument.

“It’s a visual and sound instrument I can play,” he said, adding audiences can expect theatrical elements as well. Messier’s physical movements on stage are as much a part of the performance as the sound and light components. He was first drawn to this medium 10 years ago, as a new way to explore and perform electronic music.

“In all my performances I’ve been doing in the last 10 years I’ve been working with different objects on stage,” said Messier. “I’m trying to present electronic music live on stage without being in front of a computer.” In the beginning he worked with day-to-day objects like old Singer sewing machines.

“But I was using those objects because I can manipulate them, the same way I would do with a musical instrument,” he said. “When you’re playing a musical instrument you’re touching something and you’re playing with something. I was trying to do the same with electronic music when I started all that years ago.”

Working with physical objects to make music is an integral part of his work, said Messier.

“It helps me to build something, I would call a small narrative, a simple narrative on stage,” he said. “It’s not exactly the same as listening to a musical performance. It’s a little bit different.”

First time North

This performance will be the first time Messier has ever been to the North.

“I don’t travel often in Canada so I’ve never been in Yellowknife. I’m more travelling in Europe to say the truth. So yeah, first time and seriously I don’t know what to expect.”

Artist Herman Kolgen will not be in Yellowknife for the show but his film LINK.C will be shown, and is billed as “a moving, elliptical representation of our urban areas.”

Elsewhere LINK.C has been presented as a performance, with a live string quartet on stage but that will not be the case in Yellowknife.

“You can live the experience without having the live string quartet because it’s a score that is already written by Philip Glass,” said Kolgen.

The Opéra National de Bordeaux’s Charles Guivarch invited Kolgen to create a piece based on Philip Glass’s String Quartet No. 2, also known as Company. The piece was originally written as instrumental music for Fred Neumann’s adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s 1979 novella of the same name.

“Samuel Beckett tells a story about an old man who was lying dying, and he’s lonely,” said Kolgen. “He’s in his apartment and he just feels in his head and in his heart the memories of all the people that were important in his life. Like a dream, just before dying.”

Kolgen said he reflected on this idea before working on his approach to the film.

“In LINK.C I worked more on a city scale, a global scale, because often now we hear that in contemporary life the people are very isolated,” he said. “They don’t know too much about their neighbours, when they cross other people in the street they don’t look them in the eye. We are very disconnected, more lonely. And I wanted to work on this level because I don’t feel that it’s so dramatic like that. I think now we are with another kind of connection.”

Kolgen said he has plenty of friends and people that he connects with from other countries and cities around the world. With LINK.C, he wanted to illustrate the larger global connection we now share.

The film’s connection to Samuel Beckett is not just about the man who remembers all the personal connections throughout his life.

“In this movie … you can start to see all the invisible connections between the windows, between the buildings, the cars,” said Kolgen. “That all the people, in some invisible way or maybe more abstract way, are connected and linked together. It’s just another level of humanity’s connection that Samuel Beckett wanted to express in his theatre piece.”

In this way, cities are viewed as almost like another ecosystem for human beings. Kolgen said he’s always been interested in the relationship between people and their environment, especially man-made ones like cities. LINK.C is an exploration of cityscapes, their connection to humans and the way our environment affects us every day.

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