Trajectories, Circulation, Assemblages: The Heterogeneous Modes of Endurance of Digital Arts Practice in Montréal


Session Title:

  • Changing Vocabularies of Digital Art

Presentation Title:

  • Trajectories, Circulation, Assemblages: The Heterogeneous Modes of Endurance of Digital Arts Practice in Montréal




  • For five years I have observed a set of technocreative practices in different multimedia sectors in Montreal. My study is based on more than fifty interviews with technocreative workers/artists and on several observations conducted at digital arts centers. I focused my research on the paths and practice of digital artists across different technocreative milieus. Compared to other technocreative workers, digital artists are simultaneously involved in different production sites – companies, universities, digital arts centers. They have plural careers (Bureau, Perrenoud, & Shapiro, 2009) and their digital arts practice appears to be highly hybrid (Gere, 2005; Ross, 2005). Digital arts practice cannot be reduced to the logic of production specific to an art milieu and unfolds itself along varied paths crossing different milieus.

    The question of how this complex practice endures (Massumi, 2002; Stengers, 2002; Whitehead, 1979) implies to pay attention to the plurality of elements that informs its perpetual (re)constitution. This requires new ways of theorizing digital artists’ paths. We propose a new way of conceptualizing these paths – as trajectories (Massey, 2005) – to highlight the plurality of ways the digital arts practice is articulated along those paths. This practice is thus considered in terms of its co-constitutive mediations (Hennion, 1993, 2007) with different elements – institutions, materialities, discourses, technologies, people – forming successive assemblages (DeLanda, 2006; Latour, 2007; Mar & Anderson, 2010). We will discuss the maintenance of digital arts practice through three main points. The first point covers the technologies involved in digital art practices and a correlated “savoir mineur” (Auray, 2002; Simondon, 1969). The second relates to the montrealese digital arts community and the situated knowledge characteristic of those locales. Finally, I will deal with the relationship between technocreative companies and practice in digital arts. Heterogeneous elements contribute in various ways to the endurance and the singularity of the digital arts practice that in return deploys its effectivities far beyond a circumscribed social space (Grossberg, 1992). Framing the digital arts practice as more than an esoteric practice emanating solely from a specialized art milieu, this research brings out the cultural, technological and material significance of digital arts.