Humans at the Heart of Technology
13 artists, 8 works in the Quartier des spectacles

The NFB, the Quartier des spectacles Partnership and MUTEK have joined forces to produce and present Common Space? an interactive tour of 8 works in 8 public spaces in Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles from October 1 to 18. The result of a creative process exploring humanity at the heart of technology, Common Space? combines the talents of 13 artists from 7 countries. Montreal is the first leg of this international journey.

Common Space? is part of the much larger Human Futures: Shared Memories and Visions project, which was made possible through the support of the EU’s Culture Programme in the form of eight artist residencies hosted by one of the partners. Exchanges and sharing are values ​​inherent in the philosophy behind the Human Futures project, which aims to initiate dialogue among cities internationally: artists draw inspiration from and build relationships with a new environment as they dialogue with its citizens and learn about their concerns. From the exchanges that take place in the various host cities, unique works are born and adapted to inhabit each new location on the tour.

Through their interventions, the artists collaborating in the Human Futures project suggest the following food for thought: because technology has the ability to re-contextualize our perception of the environment, rather than remaining a set of imposed structures, it is a malleable entity that can be modified through design and creation.

The overall project is the fruit of an international collaboration between several cultural partners based respectively in Liverpool (UK), Aarhus (Denmark), Berlin (Germany), Vienna (Austria) and Montreal (Canada). These organizations commission the production of new public art creations that citizens are invited to take part in. Common Space? is the first component of this large collaboration. Following Montreal, the artists head to Liverpool to continue the vast Human Futures project.

Artists and projects

Forgot your password?

Aram Bartholl (Germany) / Video projection on the façade of the Grande Bibliothèque (BAnQ)

In the summer of 2012, Yahoo’s Voice service was hacked and its database of 440,000 user passwords was stolen. The collective D33Ds Company then dumped the entire database on the Internet, including all of these passwords. In our Internet-driven society where the concept of online identity is increasingly important, the security of such systems is constantly being tested by pirates and surveillance groups. A user’s very private password can be easily found among millions of others in the vast collections of data that exist online. As part of the Human Futures project, Aram Bartholl projects these 440,000 stolen Yahoo passwords on the facade of the Grande Bibliothèque (BAnQ) in Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles. This public screening of what are normally secret passwords raises questions about our online lives.

(Click picture for biography and high-resolution photo.)

Aram Bartholl

Aram Bartholl is a member of the Internet-based artist group Free, Art & Technology Lab – F.A.T. Lab. Internet politics, the DIY movement and the growth of the web in general play an important role in his work. In addition to numerous lectures, workshops and performances, Aram has exhibited at MoMA (New York), The Pace Gallery (New York) and DAM (Berlin). Aram lives and works in Berlin and is represented by the DAM gallery in Berlin and by the XPO Gallery in Paris.

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Unintended Emissions

The Critical Engineering Working Group: Bengt Sjölén (Sweden), Julian Oliver (New Zealand), Danja Vasiliev (Russia)

Wall of video projections near the Saint-Laurent metro station
Appearing in urban environments without warning, Unintended Emissions captures, dissects, mines and maps the involuntary and invisible emissions of our mobile devices. Using the same techniques and technologies as those used by federal surveillance agencies, this intervention aims to instil a “healthy paranoia” in the interest of emphasizing our techno-political subjectivity. It also makes us wonder: to what extent do our cellphones talk behind our backs?
The Critical Engineering Working Group, established in 2011, develops projects, strategies and intensive training programs on critical engineering, as outlined in their manifesto, available at

Bengt Sjölén

Bengt Sjölén is a Critical Engineer, independent software and hardware designer, hacker and artist based in Stockholm and Berlin, and with roots in the “demoscene.” He collaborates within several networks such as Weise7 in Berlin, Teenage Engineering in Stockholm and Aether architecture in Budapest. Bengt’s work has been exhibited internationally at many museums, festivals and exhibitions, including the Synthetic Times Exhibition (Beijing), NTT ICC (Tokyo), Biennale of Architecture (Venice), ISEA (San Jose, US and Helsinki), Kuturhuset (Stockholm), Pixelache (Helsinki), Ars Electronica (Linz), World Expo 2010 (Shanghai), Transmediale (Berlin), Ludwig Muzeum (Budapest) and (Sao Paolo and Belo Horizonte, Brazil).

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Julian Oliver

Julian Oliver is a Critical Engineer and artist originally from New Zealand but now based in Berlin. His work and lectures have been presented at many museums, galleries, international electronic art events and conferences, including the Tate Modern, Transmediale, the Chaos Computer Congress, Ars Electronica, FILE and the Japan Media Arts Festival. Julian has received several awards, notably the prestigious Ars Electronica Golden Nica Award (2011) for his Newstweek project, produced in collaboration with Danja Vasiliev.

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Danja Vasiliev

Danja Vasiliev is a Critical Engineer born in St. Petersburg, currently living and working in Berlin. He studies systems and networks through anti-disciplinary experimentation, using hardware, firmware and software to create works of critical engineering. Since 1999, Danja has been involved in computer technology events, media art exhibitions and seminars worldwide. He has received a number of awards and mentions, including at Ars Electronica, Japan Media Art Festival and Transmediale, among others. In October 2011, he co-authored The Critical Engineering Manifesto with his colleagues Julian Oliver and Gordan Savičić. In his day-to-day life, Danja works with Linux software and promotes open source practices in all aspects of life.

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End of Broadcast

Daniel Iregui (Canada) / Marquee of Place des Arts

We are constantly bombarded with images and information, surrounded by media and hyper-connected to the world. Everything we see and hear remains stored in our memory, affecting it in various ways. End of Broadcast is an interactive installation representing a moment of disconnection, where the only way of staying connected is through our memories. People are invited to move their hands in front of the screen to see video fragments that they can control with their movements. This need for interaction is a metaphor for our inability to disconnect.

Daniel Iregui

Daniel Iregui is a native of Bogota, Colombia who currently lives and works in Montreal. He is the founder of Iregular, a Montreal-based interactive content creation studio, and has worked in the field of interactive design for almost ten years. As art director-made-programmer, Daniel creates artistic interactive experiences in public spaces where design is as important as technology. His work, often signed as “Iregular,” has been presented at the Festival du nouveau cinéma, Montréal HighLights Festival, Igloofest, MUTEK Montréal, MUTEK Mexico, C2-MTL, Mapping Festival (Switzerland) and Glow Festival (Netherlands).

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A Side Man 5000 Adventure

Darsha Hewitt (Germany) and Nelly-Ève Rajotte (Canada) / Goethe-Institut

Darsha Hewitt has spent the last year contemplating the aesthetic and innovative potential of bringing back the Wurlitzer Side Man 5000—the oldest commercial drum machine in the world. Created in 1959 and weighing 38 kg, it is also the world’s heaviest portable electronic music instrument, able to produce an infinite number of strange rhythms akin to ballroom music in various tempos conducive to dancing. Darsha exhibits this fascinating machine and presents tutorial videos explaining how it works. The public can also attend a hands-on workshop called The Sideman 5000 Sample, accompanied by the artist, at the Goethe-Institut as part of MUTEK_IMG.

Meanwhile, Nelly-Ève Rajotte offers a lush and immersive outdoor multi-projection project that exposes the complex and unique workings of the Wurlitzer Side Man 5000, accompanied by a composition of sound bites produced by this instrument.

Darsha Hewitt

Darsha Hewitt lives in Germany, where she teaches at the Faculty of Media at Bauhaus University. She also creates electromechanical sound installations, drawings, videos and experimental performances with handmade audio electronics. Her first solo exhibition was co-produced in 2013 by Skol and the Elektra Festival in Montreal. She recently presented her work at Modern Art Oxford (UK), WRO Media Art Biennale (Poland), CTM Festival and LEAP Berlin (Germany), Sight + Sound – Montreal’s International Digital Arts Biennial, and the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville. In 2011, Darsha was awarded an international production stipend from the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art in Oldenburg, Germany. In 2013, she was nominated for the Marler European Sound Art Award (Germany) and completed a fellowship in the Sound Art program at Hochschule für bildende Künste in Braunschweig, Germany. Also in 2013, she founded the DARDI_2000 Mentoring Program in partnership with the Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music (STEIM) in Amsterdam.

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Nelly-Ève Rajotte

After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in art history, Nelly-Ève Rajotte completed a second undergraduate degree at UQAM’s School of Visual and Media Arts, followed by a master’s degree in 2006. In addition to numerous exhibitions on Québec soil—such as at SAT, the Darling Foundry, Parisian Laundry, Occurrence, Clark, L’Oeil de Poisson and Optica, among others—Nelly-Ève’s work has been shown at several Canadian festivals such as at MUTEK, Antimatter Underground Film Festival, International Festival of Films of Art, as well as throughout the world, including at the International Short Film Festival of Berlin and Official Selection Transmediale Berlin (Germany), Otherworldly, Manchester Urban Screens (UK), EXiS2007 (Korea), the Moscow International Film Festival, and the Finnish Contemporary Art Fair and Taide.

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Michel de Broin (Canada) / Video projections on the façade of Théâtre Maisonneuve

Life on earth began with an erotic show in which nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and potassium intertwined in an opening dance. Fast-forward some three billion years to what some geologists call the Anthropocene epoch, and organic activity on earth has deflated; it’s almost as if the orgy were coming to an end. Human meddling could be a veritable geophysical force inhibiting this organic activity. According to some observers, the impact of humanity’s changes, extractions and unprecedented waste now outweighs natural factors and fluctuations. Human progress has cast a dark shadow indeed over future humans. As the Anthropocene period reaches this cut-off point and ends, all its residues are left behind. Enter “Molysmocène,” the age of trash. This project imagines how life might re-emerge from our refuse. Molysmocène is a video animation produced with a group of young participants. In this laboratory, life is reborn from the inanimate matter in our trash. It revives the soup of capitalism’s discarded leftovers.

The artist wishes to thank Luc Guillemette (event coordinator for the Musée d’art contemporain workshops), Émilie Godbout (workshop facilitator at the Musée d’art contemporain), Dexter Davis and Sael Simard (documentation and technical support), Michel Pétrin (audiovisual services at the Musée d’art contemporain), Alexandre Perreault (photographer) and the Musée d’art contemporain.

Michel de Broin

Michel de Broin’s work ranges from assemblage to video and photography. His multifaceted production deals with energy flows, entropic devolution, and the forms of visual, spatial and technological paradoxes that derive from these forces. A mid-career survey of his work was presented by Montreal’s Musée d’art contemporain in 2013. Michel has also held a number of solo exhibitions and projects, such as Reciprocal Energy (Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne, France), Reverse Entropy (Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin), Disruption from Within (Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg, Canada) and Épater la Galerie (Villa Merkel, Esslingen, Germany). His group exhibitions include: Car Fetish. I drive, therefore I am (Museum Tinguely, Basel, Switzerland), Acclimatization (Villa Arson Art Centre, Nice, France), Untethered, Eyebeam (New York) and Au courant (Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York). Recipient of the 2007 Sobey Art Award, Michel has also received grants from the Harpo Foundation (Los Angeles) and the Krasner-Pollock Foundation (New York). More recently, Michel was awarded a residency at the International Studio and Curatorial Program in New York City.

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We're all friends here

Sam Meech (UK) in collaboration with Marilène Gaudet (Canada) / Place de la Paix and UQAM Design Centre

Sam Meech presents a series of works reflecting the experiences of downtown Montrealers, and casts a critical eye on the role of the arts in a changing urban environment. Through interviews and a visual search of the Quartier des spectacles, he records the ideas, experiences and iconography of those who live there, and creatively reimagines them in the form of traditional jacquard knits. The objective is to construct an image of overlapping and often contradictory perspectives of the area by revealing its characters, dynamics and social tensions to ask the question: “Where does art fit in?”

At Place de la Paix, the public is invited to participate in Crossed Lines, a reactive knitted wave that visually represents these interviews. People can listen to these interviews from a phone booth, and leave a message; their voices will join the others in the knit on the projection’s facade. All around, banner signs created in collaboration with Marilène Gaudet, feature details taken from the neighbourhood’s iconography. At the UQAM Design Centre, the “knit-movie” This is not a show translates the ideas and experiences gathered during the interviews into patterns, symbols and statements that appear in glorious low-resolution knitted form.

Sam Meech

Sam Meech is an artist and videosmith. Often collaborating with other artists, he explores the role of analogue technologies in a digital landscape and the potential to fuse the two in production, projection and performance. As the co-director of Re-Dock, a not-for-profit arts organization, he develops projects that explore the ways in which communities interact with digital media, ideas and public space. Born in Huddersfield in 1981, Sam studied at Liverpool John Moores University (BA in Multimedia Arts), and currently lives and works in North West England. His recent projects include: 8 Hours Labour – Rates for the Job (Kinetica Art Fair, 2014),  Knitted Digital Football Scarf (National Football Museum, 2014) and Punchcard Economy (Time & Motion: Redefining Working, Liverpool, 2013). In 2010, Sam developed “Noah’s Ark” during a residency at the North West Film Archive in collaboration with poet Nathan Jones (Mercy) and musician Carl Brown (Wave Machines).

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Marilène Gaudet

A pioneer in “yarnbombing,” Marilène (a.k.a. Marie “Laine”) Gaudet seeks to break barriers between people, fine arts and crafts by dressing elements of the urban landscape in colourful knitted fabric, thereby re-appropriating public spaces. She obtained a MFA in Art Therapy in 2011 and a BFA in Studio Arts in 2007, both from Montreal’s Concordia University. Marilène was awarded an Artist-Animator grant in recreation in 2015 and two cultural mediation grants from the city of Montreal in 2013 and 2014. A former member of the Ville-Laines collective, she has exhibited at Montreal’s Maison de la culture Côte-des-Neiges, at L’Arsenal and at Jardins du précambrien in Val-David, Quebec. In 2015, she held a solo exhibition at Stewart Hall in Pointe-Claire, and recovered the public piano on St-Denis Street, while continuing her street art interventions everywhere she goes.

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Les îles invisibles

Sébastien Pierre and Daniel Canty (Canada) / Departs from the Saint-Laurent metro station

Les îles invisibles is an interactive tour of the public space—and an invitation to rediscover Montreal. At times, the tour feels like a puzzle; at others, a quest. Using their smart phone as a compass, participants must decode 72 fragments of a story hidden in 16 sites at the Quartier des spectacles to reconstruct the past, present... and future. A network of connected off-line terminals are scattered throughout the tour, along with secret places where people can leave their mark on the surface of this changing area. Navigating the tour is facilitated by a map of the area and a series of symbols for reaching each site. Upon arriving at a new site, explorers will find number codes on the ground, each one revealing yet another fragment of the story.

Sébastien Pierre

Based in Montreal, Sébastien Pierre is a software engineer, designer and co-founder of FFunction, an organization specializing in information design. While studying design at the University of Strasbourg, Sébastien used his programming experience to create interactive visualizations of his data and became fascinated by the different ways in which information can be represented. He later founded FFunction to help make data visualization a useful tool for companies and organizations, thereby allowing them to better understand their environment and improve their communications. Sébastien is actively involved in open-source at the local community level, developing new ways of using data to improve society and prevent political corruption.

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Daniel Canty

Daniel Canty is a writer and film director. His work flows freely between literature and publishing, film and theatre, visual and media arts and design. Among others, he is the author of the story, Les États-Unis du vent (2014), the novel, Wigrum (2011) and the essay, Êtres Artificiels (1997). Daniel is also the “book director” of the trilogy La table des matières, along with many other works. His career was marked by the emergence of electronic media at the end of last century, during which time he lead the web adaptation of Alan Lightman’s fictional collage of stories, Einstein’s Dreams (DNA, 1999). Daniel then followed up with installations, exhibitions and directed numerous books. The geopoetic atlas, VVV – Une trilogie d’odyssées transfrontières, created in collaboration with Patrick Beaulieu, will be published in October. Daniel was awarded a residency at the Québec Studio in London in 2014.

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Poème mécanique

Tobias Ebsen (Danemark) / Espace culturel George-Émile-Lapalme de la Place des Arts

Tobias Ebsen is a Copenhagen-based designer, artist and creative technologist who creates digital media installations. He has produced and collaborated on a large number of projects exploring the intersections of digital technology, art and public spaces. Tobias holds a PhD in Digital Design from Aarhus University (2013) and has exhibited internationally with previous projects, such as: Power Display (Sydney), a public display of power consumption in residential housing (2013), Wall of Light (CopenhagenAirport), an illuminated advertisement commissioned by Carlsberg Denmark, and the Denmark Pavilion façade (Shanghai), a media façade using 3,600 independent LED lights, created in collaboration with CAVI, BIG and Martin Professional and commissioned by the Danish Business Authority.

Tobias Ebsen

Tobias Ebsen is a Copenhagen-based designer, artist and creative technologist who creates digital media installations. He has produced and collaborated on a large number of projects exploring the intersections of digital technology, art and public spaces. Tobias holds a PhD in Digital Design from Aarhus University (2013) and has exhibited internationally with previous projects, such as: Power Display (Sydney), a public display of power consumption in residential housing (2013), Wall of Light (CopenhagenAirport), an illuminated advertisement commissioned by Carlsberg Denmark, and the Denmark Pavilion façade (Shanghai), a media façade using 3,600 independent LED lights, created in collaboration with CAVI, BIG and Martin Professional and commissioned by the Danish Business Authority.

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Louis-Richard Tremblay

Louis-Richard Tremblay is a producer at the National Film Board of Canada’s Interactive Studio in Montreal. Initially working in college and indie radio, he leaped into the multimedia world in 2001, joining the Bande à part cross-platform team at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As head of special projects and live recordings and events, Louis-Richard was at the epicenter of the new media revolution. Before joining the NFB in 2013, Louis-Richard was chief editor for a news and public affairs lab unit exploring new journalistic approaches for reporting regional stories. Throughout his career, Louis-Richard’s work has been awarded both here and abroad. He is currently working on virtual reality projects, in situ interactive installations and games, all while doggedly pursuing the same goal: to explore new ways of telling stories.

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Pascale Daigle

Pascale Daigle is the co-founder of DAIGLE/SAIRE, a consulting firm specializing in the arts. With over 15 years of experience, she has worked with several artistic and cultural organizations, and has successfully advised many actors in their strategic approaches and projects. In 2014, Pascale helped to develop the programming strategy of the Quartier des spectacles Partnership. Since 2015, she has served as Director of Programming.

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Alain Mongeau

Alain Mongeau is the founder and director of MUTEK. Holding a PhD in communications, Mongeau directed ISEA95, the sixth international symposium on electronic art, in addition to being at the head of ISEA from 1996 to 2000. Alain was also in charge of new media programming at the Festival international du nouveau cinéma de Montréal from 1997 to 2001. In 2000, he founded MUTEK, a Montreal-based organization dedicated to exploring and promoting digital creativity and electronic music. Its main platform, the MUTEK festival, is held annually in Montreal and is considered a benchmark for artists and professionals around the world, as well as for many audiences in North America. MUTEK also organizes activities abroad, including annual events in Mexico City, Barcelona and Bogota.

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Activities schedule

Walking tour of Common Space?

When: October 1, 3, 8 and 15 at 7 p.m.
Where: At the main entrance of la Grande Bibliothèque, 475 de Maisonneuve Blvd. East
Running time: 60–90 min
Language: French, except on October 3 (English)
Cost: Free – Reservation required

Schedule for Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme Place des Arts

Monday to Friday: 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Saturday: 5:30 a.m. to 1:15 a.m.
Sunday: 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Schedule for the marquee of Place des Arts

From 8:15 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Specific schedule for the Goethe Institut:

Outdoor projections
Friday and Saturday: 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
From Sunday to Thursday: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Monday to Friday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Schedule Les Îles invisibles

All the thime

MUTEK_IMG: Presentation of the Common Space? project as part of Human Futures

FREE – PRESENTATIONS: Interactive Art in the Public Space: The Common Space? Project
PHI Centre, October 3, 2015, noon to 2 p.m.
WORKSHOP: The Sideman 5000 Sample Salon with Darsha Hewitt (Goethe Institute)
PANEL: Black Hat, Grey Hat, White Hat: Privacy Ethics of a Hacktivist (Phi Centre)
WORKSHOP: Wireless Forensics with Julian Oliver (Goethe Institute)
DISCUSSION: A Side Man 5000 Adventure (Phi Centre)
PANEL: Off-the-Grid: Alternative Networks in the 21st Century (Phi Centre).


Marie Lamoureux

Nadine Viau

About the NFB

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won 100 awards, including 11 Webbys. To access acclaimed NFB content, visit or download its apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV.

Quartier des Spectacles

The Quartier des Spectacles is Montreal’s cultural heart, boasting North America’s most concentrated and diverse group of cultural venues. The district is the year-round host to countless festivals and events, many of which include free outdoor shows and activities. The Quartier also hosts innovative urban installations involving cutting-edge lighting design, immersive environments or interactive digital spaces. The Quartier des Spectacles is an international showcase for new multimedia technology, making Montreal a global leader in the urban exhibition of digital content. For more information, visit


MUTEK is a Montréal based organization dedicated to the exploration and promotion of digital creativity and electronic music. Launched in 2000, its central platform is its annual festival in Montréal, which has become an essential North American reference point for international artists, industry professionals and diverse audiences. MUTEK also maintains activities around the world, including annual events in Mexico City, Barcelona and Bogota. Conceived as a complementary event to its festival in the spring, the first MUTEK_IMG was introduced in 2013 as a forum that emphasizes visuality in the digital creation milieu, and rallies both artists and professionals.  The 2nd edition of MUTEK_IMG will take place from October 1 to 3 at the Phi Centre, Montréal. The 17th edition of the MUTEK festival will take place from June 1 to 5, 2016, in Montréal.