Narcy speaks about the shift in music consumption

The artist and professor shares his views on the “lower attention span” of the matter.

Yassin Alsalman, also known by his stage name “Narcy,” has been engaged in the life of a professor at the university level since 2013. Being an artist as well as a teacher on music and its all-around artistry at Concordia—especially the world of hip-hop—he holds concrete awareness and knowledge of the industry. 

Narcy shared his thoughts on how potentially drastic music consumption has changed. Whether regarding the internet or real-life professional scenarios, the multimedia artist, actor, and journalist answered questions about the potential benefits and issues of a shift in the intentions of music consumers and the business. 

The modern way of an album rollout, with respect to the many different ways of release, promotion periods, etc., has obviously not stayed the same as a process. The increase of the power of the internet as a means to discover and connect with music has been reinforced in new ways. 

TikTok, for example, has been making new or established artists feel the need to include their projects on the platform to strengthen engagement and stay relevant. The app has been a way for artists to push their popularity and the success of a song behind a certain trend and has even kick-started careers. For instance, Doja Cat and Jack Harlow wouldn’t necessarily be where they are now without TikTok. But is it for the better or worse? 

Having made multiple albums over the past 20 years, Narcy definitely thinks the process of conceptualizing an album for instance has changed, “both on a consumption and a production level.” Furthermore, “people now have the uber mentality around when, how and where to receive and consume music so there is definitely a major shift in how we, as artists, have to think,” he says. Narcy’s take here is all about what artists crave out of their respective careers. 

He, personally, has always approached his music “from the model of merchandise, experience, and physical/tangible work” while consciously leaning less on the internet. Certain artists, notably from the younger generation, can tend to lean heavier on the digital side and some like The Alchemist, Narcy remarked, create brand experiences. Then there are those “that lean heavily on the digital side so I think it has a lot to do with how much you lean into the commercial and industry side vs. the artistic side of music making” he adds. 

In Narcy’s circle and extended world, music interaction used to be rooted in reading liner notes, being blown away by art, and having to research the artist profusely. Today’s convenience has drastically affected this aspect of the music experience. “The immediate access and the disposability of music on DSPs [Demand-Side Platforms] and other platforms makes the music experience different and less etched in their daily experience,” he said.

Being a father and interacting with university students, Narcy has witnessed music consumption being adopted diversely by different generations. On the one hand, the greater accessibility to production can allow “kids to dabble in production at such a young age and figure out their creative direction.” On the other hand, Narcy fears that music is no longer being retained. Narcy explains, “I have memories attached to music and nostalgia that pulls me back to certain places and times in my life.” 

In the Montreal music scene, a “swinging pendulum between digital and physical art” is predominantly present. According to Narcy, it is undeniable to acknowledge producers in the city who keep that organic and digging mentality around making beats and music while there are artists with more of a taste for electronic sounds is undeniable. Today, both are embedded in the music scene making Montreal “a breeding ground for art”, no matter the medium of consumption, he states. We can agree, no one can argue with that. 

Arts Exhibit

Yea I made it up, Yea it’s real: Examining digital culture, social media, and the meme-sphere

Concordia students and alumni adopt internet aesthetics to explore the human experience in the digital age in new exhibition

On Feb. 17, artists Edson Niebla Rogil and Dayana Matasheva hosted the vernissage for their exhibition Yea I made it up, Yea it’s real out of their shared Plateau studio.

The show featured 12 artists, including Niebla Rogil and Matasheva, whose works address the effects of the internet on the human experience through mediums ranging from AI-generated audio to livestreaming-inspired video compilations.

For Matasheva, who graduated from film production in 2020, the internet represents an aesthetic endeavour. “I think aesthetically, no one is using the visual vernacular of the internet. We are interested in its aesthetics specifically, rather than just its subject matter.”

After noticing a lack of representation of internet subject matter within traditional gallery spaces, Niebla Rogil and Matasheva issued an open call for like-minded artists.

“There’s a really big focus on technology as a medium, but there’s very little about the cultures that are growing online and changing the landscape of how people interact with each other,” said Concordia intermedia major Liz Waterman, whose sensorial TikTok-inspired video projection Doom Scroll was featured in the exhibition.

“I think that it’s shaping culture and psychology in a way that’s really interesting, and we don’t see enough work about it.”

Yea I made it up, Yea it’s real is the first exhibition organized, hosted, and curated by Niebla Rogil and Matasheva, but the pair have ambitions to move future exhibitions out of their studio into larger spaces, and to continue to host their networking event The Net Worker.

“It’s a recurring event where people shamelessly network and there’s no other purpose to it,” explains Matasheva. “People come together, exchange DIY business cards, they wear business attire and everything. It’s a little bit performative, but it actually is serving a purpose for artists.”

Information about upcoming exhibitions, networking events and more can be found on Niebla Rogil and Matasheva’s Instagram profiles.


Looking down the rabbit hole of streaming services

Now more than any ever we have unlimited access to the art of music

Not too long ago, finding new music took a walk to the record store to ask the employees what they recommended. These audio aficionados were real human beings with ears for music and the knowledge to point out what constitutes art worth listening to. In that same spirit, new music had long presented itself to consumers in the shape of the live show, something we’re generally bereft of in a pandemic world. Opening acts allowed patrons to discover a performer often unknown to them, giving listeners the chance to come to their own conclusions.

With the introduction of countless streaming services, infinite artists and genres are accessible at any given time. These have opened the doors to vast historical catalogues of music from Cab Calloway to Brian Eno, or from swing to shoegaze. There is no doubt that this is a fortunate time to be a lover of music, but at the heart of all these streaming services is something to remember: they are businesses, and businesses love to collect data.

Take Spotify’s privacy policy for example, which outlines their use of user data which includes search queries, streaming history, user-created playlists, browsing history, account settings, and much more. Most of this is used “to provide the personalized Spotify Service,” and “to evaluate and develop new features, technologies, and improvements to the Spotify Service.”

In this sense, the algorithm is always ahead of its listeners, basing recommendations on their digital footprints. Although streaming services offer discovery playlists, they are still generated by the service itself. As a result of this, it becomes easy to fall into a loop of listening to similar artists from similar periods over and over again. You don’t need to know who Cocteau Twins or Car Seat Headrest are to have good music taste, but you can do better than the cheap recommendations produced by your own habits.

All of this begs the question: what’s the answer to big tech mirroring our tastes back to us? Not everyone has parents with a basement full of vinyl records and a turntable waiting to be discovered. In this regard, it would suit us to find and define music for ourselves. With sites like Rate Your Music or Chosic, the experience of discovering new music without any personal data required can be achieved in a time where live shows are sparse. With music so easily accessible these days, it becomes easier and easier to forget that music is an art form — and the act of discovering it should be an art form as well.


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


Egyptian striptease: mummies and museography at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

A dive into the ancient Egyptians’ lives and a peek through their wrappings

Open until the end of March at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibit Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives presents the daily life of Ancient Egypt through the eyes of six individuals who lived between 900 BCE to the second century CE.

But there is more than just mummies, 3D scans of the mummies yield high-quality imagery of what is hidden underneath the strips of linen for visitors to explore.

“Exploring Ancient Lives”

The Museum of Fine Arts has put its own twist on the exhibition, originally curated by the British Museum in London, England. Each room connects to the mummy of an individual, which in turn is associated with a theme—music for a female singer, family life for a two-year-old mummified boy, religion for a priest and so forth.

Throughout each room, the public discovers the quotidian Egyptian life, from diet and religion to embalming and wigs. The exhibition showcases beautiful artifacts, mummies and their adorned sarcophaguses.

There is no shortage of historical artifacts to see at the Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition’s curators have succeeded in showing visitors what everyday life in Ancient Egyptian was like.

Room devoted to music and beauty. Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives. Photo © MMFA, Denis Farley

Under the Wrappings

For nearly 40 years, researchers have scanned mummies using computer tomography (CT scan) to avoid damaging them when unwrapping their bodies. CT scanning yields 3D images of the dead and of the artifacts laying under the strips of linen.

Although non-invasive, this technique has some pitfalls when it comes to interpreting the images the computer creates. The main limitation of CT scans is that the analysis of the images only rarely enable researchers to distinguish between ante—and postmortem traumas—the latter resulting from the mummification process.

The exhibit includes a short video that shows each mummy’s digital unwrapping. Brief text boxes provide information about the discoveries made on the bodies. The six videos are very instructive, even if they’re repetitive once you have seen a couple.

This technique and its video rendering are central to the exhibition. The British Museum and the Museum of Fine Art claim that CT scanning provides a new perspective on these ancient histories. Arguably, it’s not that new.

A decade ago, the same technology was used at the Musée de la Civilisation in Québec city for another mummy exhibition. At the time, it was indeed exceptional—there was only one CT scanning rendering of a mummy, that was displayed in its own section of the exhibition.

The 3D technology is certainly informative and should reel in visitors, but it might not be the showstopper it is designed to be.

CT Scanning yields images of the body underneath the wrappings. Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives. Photo © MMFA, Denis Farley

Museums in the Digital Age

Museums have embraced digital technologies and multimedia tools to raise visitors’ engagement. The Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives exhibition is a good example of the inclusion of new technologies.

Besides the CT scanning, the Museum of Fine Arts has partnered with Ubisoft. The video games company has provided a row of computers where visitors can play an educative version of Assassin’s Creed Origins, set in Ancient Egypt.

However, there are other avenues to explore and innovate in museography.

Research shows that immersive and multisensory exhibitions are one path worth exploring to engage visitors with a topic, stimulate their interest and provoke emotional responses.

The curators of Egyptian Mummies have experimented with this immersive approach through the occasional use of ambient sounds and lighting effects. But they have not fully embraced it.

More could have been done to engage the public on a multisensory level and give visitors the impression that they are, indeed, “exploring ancient lives.” Yet, the exhibition is definitely worth a visit––you will learn a lot and there are so many beautiful and informative things to see. The Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives exhibition is open until March 29.



Feature photo: A faux stonewall representing the entrance of a temple, lighting effects and Nile sounds welcome the visitors. Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives. Photo © MMFA, Denis Farley 


Algorithm editors and what they mean

What would journalism be without editors? Well, in my opinion, it would be pretty chaotic.

Editors are the backbone of journalism — take them out of the equation and you are setting loose a tsunami of fake news, badly written and poorly researched stories – to sum up, just total amateurism.

But, what do editors actually do?

According to Amelia Pisapia, journalist and former editorial director of Novel, editors are talented problem solvers who excel at putting information in context, assessing the accuracy of data and weeding out bias.

“They view issues from multiple angles, connect the dots and uncover human stories in complex systems,” writes Pisapia.

Pisapia adds that editors work within established ethical frameworks. She says that all editors have five values in common: accuracy, independence, impartiality, humanity and accountability.

However, in recent years editors have started to quite literally lose some of their humanity. With developments in technology and artificial intelligence, more and more media and news distributing platforms have started to use algorithms as editors instead of actual humans.

A good example is the algorithm behind the news feed on Facebook.Tobias Rose-Stockwell, a strategist, designer and journalist for Quartz wrote in his article, “[Facebook’s algorithm] shows you stories, tracks your responses, and filters out the ones that you are least likely to respond to. It is mapping your brain, seeking patterns of engagement.”

Sounds great doesn’t it? Having only quality news that you are interested in delivered right to your doorstep without having to move a muscle.

Well if it sounds too good to be true, it’s because it simply is. Algorithms are actually very far from being these perfect editors that we hope them to be. They have massive flaws and are actually very dangerous.

Don’t misunderstand me, algorithm editors have some good sides. They do surpass humans on some points — vis à vis their conduct as an editor for example.

In his article, “Can an Algorithm be an Editor?,” José Moreno, former multimedia director at Motorpress Lisboa explains that an algorithm has the silver lining of always acting the same way.

“Human editors always act differently on the basis of a common code,” Moreno says. “In a way, there is more accuracy and reliability in a “system” that always performs a function in the same way than in a “system” that always performs differently.”

So, yes algorithms have some upsides; Professor Pablo Boczkowski from Northwester University even called Facebook’s algorithm “the greatest editor in the history of humanity.”

But unfortunately, despite their virtues, any positive aspect that algorithms may present are always heavily outweighed by their negative counterparts.

The study , The Editor vs. the Algorithm: Targeting, Data and Externalities in Online News done by a collection of professors from different universities compared the different aspects of AI and human editors. The researchers discovered an alarming number of problems with algorithms editors, for example the algorithms tend to serve a less diverse mix of news to readers. They create a “bubble” effect as readers are presented with a narrower set of topics. An example the study presented was about readers who lived in German states where there was a high share of votes for extreme political parties. In the last election, those people were more likely to increase their consumption of political stories when their stories were selected by algorithms.

Another flaw with algorithms is their lack of social awareness; every calculation they make is based on an individual-level data. Algorithms don’t take into account “socially optimal reading behaviour,” according to the study.

“It doesn’t differentiate between factual information and things that merely look like facts,” said  Rose-Stockwell, referring to the Facebook example above. “It doesn’t identify content that is profoundly biased, or stories that are designed to propagate fear, mistrust, or outrage.”

The worst part in all of this, is that algorithms have even started to change the way some human editors think as well as the behavior of some news organizations. We have entered a traffic-at-all-costs mentality. News outlets are influenced by numbers, clicks and views now and no longer by journalistic values.

Despite all their flaws, regrettably, algorithm editors are still here and due to humans’ lust for technology and artificial intelligence, they are probably going to stay and even multiply.

But, why should algorithm editors be opposite to human editors, why should it be human vs machine?

The solution is easy: use a mix of both. The researchers from the study mentioned above concluded that “the optimal strategy for a news outlet seems to be to employ a combination of the algorithm and the human to maximize user engagement.”

In the digital age that we currently live in, machines will continue to take over more and more aspects of life. However, humans are more relevant than ever because these machines aren’t always optimal. So, in the end having a symbiosis between humans and machines is actually a comforting thought. It is the promise of a better tomorrow where machines will help humans and not supplant them.

Graphic by @sundaeghost


Digital detoxing and the dark side of social media

One student’s account of the pressure to post and how they dealt with their anxiety

As a journalism student, social media plays a major role in my studies and my future career. With this in mind, I struggle to describe my relationship with social media; we’ve been through a lot these past years. There have been many highs followed by sickening lows, but ultimately, I always came back wanting more.

I appreciate the benefits and abilities that social media comes with. However, from time to time, I find myself lost in a whirlwind of anxiety caused by the pressure to conform to the “norm.” It is important to acknowledge that everybody has a unique experience when dealing with social media and anxiety.

For a long time, my anxiety stemmed from how others reacted to what I posted on social media. Instagram and Snapchat, specifically, were platforms that caused me to worry myself sick and over-analyze every detail. I would search for validation through likes and replies. When a post did not receive positive reactions from my followers, I would worry I was doing something wrong.

On Instagram in particular, I would over-analyze my photos, my captions and my decision to post each one in the first place. A 2017 study titled “#StatusofMind” by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement, a public health organization in the U.K., found that Instagram and Snapchat were the most detrimental platforms to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“Avoid certain filters unconditionally.” “Don’t use the #nofilter hashtag.” “Avoid the cliché.” These are just three examples from an article written by Narcity titled “The 20 unwritten rules of Instagram you should be following.” The idea that there are “rules” for social media is absurd. I think young people in particular are susceptible to following these rules and getting lost in social media.

I have gotten carried away with these unwritten rules. There were times when I would not post for months because of the societal pressure to adhere to a certain standard on social media—something completely out of character for me. It was during one of these times that I decided a digital detox would be in my best interest. The first time I stepped away from the digital world was in 2016. My anxiety towards social media had peaked, and temporarily deactivating my accounts seemed like the only solution.

I spent a week social-media free, focusing on myself and the people around me. During my digital detox, I no longer felt the pressure to update my social media. I became aware of how much time I used to spend on social media. I realized that it is a major distraction that can quickly become toxic if not used appropriately. As a generation that grew up in a digitalized world, constantly hearing adults tell us that our phones are a distraction is something we have learned to tune out.

I think the most important realization I came to was why I started posting on social media in the first place: for myself. After a week, I felt ready to log back on, but this time with a fresh mindset. It has been two years since my first digital detox. Whenever I begin to feel anxious again, I immediately detach myself from social media and take some time to reflect.

There is no doubt that social media use will not decline anytime soon, which makes it all the more important to learn how to balance it and our well-being. I am still learning how to do that myself, and I believe digital detoxes give me the chance to unplug and realign my priorities without giving up social media altogether.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


Student Life

The MUTEK international festival of digital creativity turns 18

Inviting media artists from around the world to discuss the future of creative spaces in cities

The evolution and future of creative spaces in urban cities was the focus of the 18th edition of the MUTEK international festival of digital creativity and electronic music. Top artists within the digital media realm from London, Mexico City, Barcelona and Berlin gathered in Montreal from Aug. 22 to 27.

The festival featured panel conferences, an exhibition focusing on subversions of reality and electronic music parties. There was also a digital lab workshop set up by TouchDesigner, a real-time visual development platform used for creating interactive media systems, such as visuals for music. The workshop allowed digital technicians to learn more about audio visualization techniques on the TouchDesigner platform.

Immersive technology, visual art and live music performances under a stratosphere at the SAT for MUTEK. Photo by Sébastien Roy

On the second day of the festival, the focus was on the city of London and its creative spaces. Londoners who play a role in their local digital art or music communities were invited to participate in panel conferences to discuss their projects and challenges. One speaker was Marie McPartlin, the studio director for Somerset House Studios, which commissions one of those more well-known series of events in London. McPartlin explained how this creative space, Nocturnal City, plays a big role in London’s nightlife and pushes the boundaries of underground culture.

Alongside McPartlin at the panel conference was the director of Montreal’s Never Apart, Anthony Galati; Oliver Baurhenn, the curator and organizer of the CTM Festival in Berlin; and Danji Buck-Moore, a collective member of the creative events space, La Plante, in Montreal.

The panelists discussed the need for spaces that allow artistic experimentation in urban environments and how new, creative spaces can foster diversity and inclusion.

Galati is the music director at Never Apart, a non-profit organization in Montreal which aims to bring social change and spiritual awareness through cultural programming.

Galati has been helping creatives in Montreal gain visibility by providing them with resources to evolve their artistic endeavours. According to Galati, access to creative spaces is difficult and venues in Montreal are lacking. “People are creating more, but access to creative space is a bit tougher nowadays, and this is why we need spaces that promote and perpetuate artistic behaviour and endeavours,” he said.

While there is a general need for creative space in the city, Galati put a particular emphasis on providing such spaces for low-income families and teenagers. The reason is that price is another limiting factor for participants. “It’s expensive to make music, it’s expensive to make art — more collaboration is what cities need,” Galati said.

Immersive technology, visual art and live music performances under a stratosphere at the SAT for MUTEK. Photo by Sébastien Roy

The second panel conference discussed the present and future of audiovisual practices in music festivals, film and digital arts. The panel invited the senior director of the British Film Institute, Tim Stevens; Montreal-based digital artist Myriam Bleau; Antonia Folguera, a content creator for the Sonar Festival in Barcelona; and multidisciplinary artist Paul Purgas from London.

“It’s a very fertile time for art because everyone has a story to tell — we want to support experimentation in the U.K,” said Stevens, who has more than 16 years of experience in film, live cinema and digital media. This was his third time attending the MUTEK festival in Montreal. According to Stevens, creative expression is currently too focused on technological mediums rather than the story itself. “We’re at a time where people are thinking, ‘I want to tell a story, now what’s the best form of technology to use to tell this story?’” he said. “I think my biggest advice would be: don’t worry about technology. Think of the story that you want to tell because that’s where the emotion, passion and the drive comes from.”

“When you are telling a good story, it doesn’t matter what you use,” he added. “I think people obsess too much about the form that they are using when they should just focus on their story.”

Furthermore, the panel discussed the role of immersive technology in the future of audiovisual practices, such as sound and visual aesthetics in movies. According to Stevens, at the moment, VR is only monetized through video games. As it transitions to film and art, people are trying to work out what that means for the future of these mediums. “My biggest concern about VR is that it takes away community experience,” Stevens said. “There is no audience there — it’s just an experience that one person is having. What I love about visual and audio stuff is doing live cinema and seeing everyone’s reactions.”

Stevens also made a point to reflect on the challenges creativity faces in his city. “London is a big city, and there is a lot going on. There [are] a lot of problems with the culture there when it comes to art because you need to make a very loud noise and spend a lot of money to be able to cut through.”

The common thread that emerged throughout the festival was the need to include more space for creativity in urban cities and to make these spaces more accessible and inclusive. “In an ideal world,” Galati said, “there would be cubes everywhere that people can use as multi-purpose spaces.”

Feature photo by Sandra Hercegova 

Student Life

My personal experience having a YouTube channel

How YouTube taught me life skills and how to be confident

I started my YouTube channel four years ago. In the beginning, the purpose was basically to post random music video covers of some of my favourite songs. Now, my YouTube channel has evolved and completely shifted focus—I now film and post videos about beauty, food as well as lifestyle-type videos. I’ve also recently started filming videos of my travel getaways and story-time videos. I plan on expanding on more aspects of myself for others to see.

When I started out, I was definitely nervous about filming videos and having them posted on a platform as big as YouTube. However, I knew that, if anyone could do it, I could. I’ve always had the courage in me to do anything I want. I’ve never really been afraid of what other people think.

However, I faced some disapproval when I first started out. My mom and sister judged me for the videos I posted on my channel. They called them stupid and useless. For a while, I felt discouraged about this negative feedback. Recently, I saw insulting comments posted on my videos. I deleted them and pretended they never existed. Of course, deep down, it hurts.

When you film videos and post them online, you need to be prepared for any comment that may come your way—the good, the bad and the ugly. You need to shrug off the hateful comments and keep moving forward. This is my current mindset for my YouTube journey, and it feels good. I have gained enough self-trust and confidence through YouTube— I know I am doing this for nobody else but me.

My YouTube channel means a lot to me. It’s the place where I can truly express myself with people around the world. Filming videos has definitely boosted my confidence. I can see myself evolving and becoming more “social” online by reaching out to people from all over. It makes me feel free to say and do whatever I want.  It has also helped me practice speaking aloud and in front of a camera. These skills translate well in my academic life. My channel has also forced me to be more socially-active with friends and when meeting or talking to strangers.

I also like the idea of helping people through my YouTube videos. I want to be a role model for others. Making these videos has made me want to help others overcome the same struggles I’ve dealt with in my life, including bullying and issues with self-image. I also want my YouTube channel to be a light, fun environment where I can also post funny skits, travel adventures and videos about makeup.

If you’re thinking about starting a YouTube channel, be yourself and do not be afraid to express yourself and branch out. This will help you develop a thick skin and ignore hateful comments because, at the end of the day, you are doing what makes you happy. There are always going to be people online hating on your channel, but use it as motivation to make your content better and take more risks through your videos. As Walt Disney once said: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

Graphic by Thom Bell

Student Life

Does your wallet need a rest? Save on textbooks by getting them digitally

Whether this is your first semester in university or you’ve been around for a while, one thing is universally agreed upon by students: textbooks are expensive. Depending on your department, books can run up to a nasty $200 from the bookstore, and the meager $20 or $30 you’d save on getting them second-hand is negligible at best.

The worst part? Textbooks are a necessity for most courses, at least if you’re looking to pass. Sure, there’s the odd one that you can skip on, and you can scrimp in other ways. But in reality, our lives would be considerably better if we could cut those textbook expenses down to a minimum. Is that just wishful thinking? Not really!

Initially, even a quick search on Google or Amazon for your textbook by name or ISBN will yield a few results that are, generally, at least 20 per cent lower than you’d find in the shops. You can get your hard copy, and save pretty considerably. If you own a tablet or an e-reader though, you’re in luck. In many cases, digital versions of the books are available for purchase (not just for rent, like the bookstore may suggest). These digital copies can be up to 80 per cent cheaper than the hard copy, just as reliable and through a few free applications, even printable.

Don’t feel like using google-fu to get around? will be happy to aggregate a pricelist for you on some of the more notable sources for textbooks.

Still a bit short on cash? No worries! Many textbooks that are used are also available to peruse freely online, and this is especially true for law students. Sites like offer a plethora of resources for getting textbooks that have become public access, as well as audiobooks and public domain movies and audio.

Lastly, a few textbooks are available via Google Books as well, and although the selection is currently somewhat limited, it is expanding.


Tech culture explored in “Art and the Digital”

Who says there is nowhere to go in January on a cold, Montreal evening?

The third annual Concordia University Undergraduate Art History Conference will be held this week, and this year’s title is “Art and the Digital.” The conference promises to identify, discuss and refer to the marriage of anything technological to everything artistic. The theme addresses modern-day issues and tackles head-scratching questions such as authorship, the impact of social networking on the dissemination of images and the ever-changing role of the contemporary artist.

Keynote speaker Kent Monkman is the artist behind this video installation, composed of five large projections, which offers a contemporary re-interpretation of a traditional Aboriginal ritual featuring the Berdashe, that special male figure whose gender-bending behaviour and very existence astonished and appalled many explorers of the American West. Photo: Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Christine Guest. Photo: Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Christine Guest

The Concordian spoke to Clinton Glenn, the external coordinator of the conference. Glenn pinpointed the importance of technology.

“Technology is increasingly playing a role in our everyday lives,” said Glenn. “We are connected from the time we wake up until we go to sleep. The theme of “Art and the Digital” looks at the ways that artists are informed by technology and its impact on subjective experience.”

Glenn argued that technology has left a deep footprint on art and the way art is created.

“For example, photography has in a sense been democratized — we all have a camera and we can all be photographers. Previously one would have had to have money and training to work in a dark room,” added Glenn.

Attendees will be treated to a variety of shows with projects such as “Ecology: Recycled Landscapes,” “The Robotic Action Painter as Artist” and “Problems with Digitizing Propaganda: Memory, Experience, and Power.”

Having started three years ago, the goal of the event is to present students with the opportunity to showcase their art as well as for academics to voice their insights on the subject.

“As an art historian, I am used to writing in a sort of solitary bubble, and very few people get to read what I produce,” explained Glenn. “This conference is a great way to break out of that solitariness that comes with being an academic. It is also a great experience for art history students applying to graduate schools.”

Another reason to get out the mitts and boots and head over to the conference is the keynote speech. This year, the keynote speech will be given by Kent Monkman. The prominent artist, of Cree ancestry, dabbles in painting, film,video, performance and installation art. Well represented in the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Monkman can only be described as fresh wind stirring the art world. His paintings, bright in colours such as royal purples, harlequin greens and Crayola yellows, are emotionally stirring.

In much of Monkman’s work, art mirrors emotions, such as in “Struggle for Balance” which depicts an inflamed, damaged car, people in a fight, and an archangel coming to the rescue.

Additionally, Monkman’s films are political, with social commentaries that never shy away from criticism and introspection.

The conference will feature lectures and presentations from leading art historians and students from universities across Canada and the U.S.. It promises to be a valuable educational event for all students.

“Art and the Digital” will be held on Jan. 24 – 25 in the York Amphitheatre of the EV building (EV 1.605). For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit

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