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reflection : sub-rosa
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Sub-rosa 11: CONNECT
Technology + social interaction
by Martha Ladly

Part coffee house, part public house (the "pub"); part university, part artist atelier; part design studio, part think-tank; part intimate salon, part festival space; definitive party place - who wouldn't want to hang out at the SAT?! The Société des arts technologiques de Montréal is a haven for artists (both establishment and young outlaws) and public alike; it is one of those unique places in the world that can lay claim to all of the above descriptions.

Run by Monique Savoie, (a woman of formidable intellect, vision, organizational ability, and francophone charm) and her partner Luc Courchesne (a renowned interactive installation artist), and frequented by a stellar group of Quebecois, Canadian and international artists, scientists, technologists and new media stars; the SAT is a place where ideas, creation, and social interaction meet to create an invaluable exchange on the Canadian cultural scene. A range of important festivals and annual meetings at the SAT facilitate this exchange: the Festival international du nouveau Cinéma et des nouveaux Médias de Montréal, Mutek, Elektra, and - most recently - Open Territories, all of which are discussed here in Issue 11: Relier / Connect.

The presence of the human touch - humour, the glass of wine, music and laughter - are as important to the work of Monique, Luc, and the SAT as their push into new and emerging areas of remote and distributed experiences, telekinetics, telepresence, interactive installation, and immersive, panoramic cinema. At the heart of this exchange is an insistence on merging social interaction with technology.

The oeuvre of Luc Courchesne engages the spectator in acts of socialization through the poetic facilitation of interactive contact - with people, with panoramic projections, and with immersive environments. A famous, freewheeling example is a certain public art project created by Courchesne, and produced at the SAT: Rendezvous sur les bancs publics (1999). The two halves of the installation - which linked Montreal and Quebec City telematically - were situated in public areas in these respective cities. Unhampered by technological constraints, strangers sitting on two park benches met each other across space (but not time) and conversed, joked, flirted, fought, made assignations, and in more than one case, fell in love.

What more could one ask of life - art, society, science and/or technology?

Not much, I guess, but there is more: connect to CONNECT to find it!

Martha Ladly is the Director of HorizonZero.

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