In an age where music is listened to on live streams, downloaded in torrents, and concerts are live blogged as they’re watched on webcasts, a flesh-and-blood music festival like Pop Montreal is often one of the few places you can forget about the onslaught of technological newness when it comes to your art. Don’t get too nostalgic though. Art Pop, the festival’s fine arts younger sibling, is taking things in another direction, using both new and traditional media to push at the boundaries of technology, communication, and artistic expression.
Two shows curated by Art Pop artistic director Matt Goerzen typify the range of artistic responses to new media. “Technological Strategies” (October 1, Le Pop Up Shop, 5330 St. Laurent, 7 p.m.) and “Material Solutions” (October 2, Notman House, 51 Sherbrooke O., 4 p.m.) “complement each other in an exploration of postdigital, post internet art making practices,” according to Goerzen. The artists participating in the first use the internet as a medium in their work – take, for example, the Dutch internet artist Harm van dem Dorpel’s “Ethereal Self” and “Ethereal Others” project, where visitors to etherealself.com are photographed and their images archived at etherealothers.com. On the other hand, “Material Solution” remains grounded in historical – that is to say, material – modes of representation, but is no less preoccupied with new media and technologies, though it uses media like painting, printing, and sculpture.
Perhaps the festival’s most ambitious undertaking, the “Daily Printing Project” at DHC in the Old Port (468 St. Jean, every day during the festival from noon to 6 p.m.), is both an experiment in print media and music journalism. It’s also Art Pop’s most concrete link with the larger and more established music component of Pop Montreal. Each day during the festival, a group of artists, journalists, and academics will write articles, lay them out, and then print a newsletter to be distributed at around 20 venues across Montreal. Goerzen described the newsletter, organized by local artist Stacy Lundeen as “an equal blend of columns commenting on the festival and articles that are responding to shows…there will be reviews of shows but they won’t be what you expect them to be.” One column, for example, will review shows based purely on data collected at them – number of attendees, drinks sold, decibel levels, whatever.
Nonetheless, Art Pop seems more interested in media than music. A third exhibition tackles print media from another direction – abandoning print as a vehicle for communicating information, and focusing on its potential as a medium for aesthetic practices. As the internet has outstripped books, newspapers, and magazines in speed and capacity for the dissemination of information, artists around the world have turned back to these static and historical forms as artistic praxis. “Published / Self-Published,” at Yves Laroche Galerie D’art (6355 St. Laurent) is a selection of artists’ books, art magazines, as well as self-published, limited edition, or handmade publications presented by two local magazines: Palimpsest, which publishes artists’ editions and whose first issue was a collection of artists’ editions and articles in a box, and Pica, a publication put out by UQAM design students. Yves Laroche is a major Art Pop hub; on display alongside these publications-as-art is “Par chemin,” a large group exhibition of work on paper.