Societe Des Arts Technologiques (SAT)
Society + Art + Technology: The Equation Explored By The SAT Since 1996
Society + Art + Technology: The Equation Explored By The SAT Since 1996
“The more we connect what does not appear to go together, the better the chances are for innovation to take shape.”- This is the leitmotif of Monique Savoie, founder, CEO and artistic director of the SAT.
Starting out as an underground cell, the institution has become an international reference. The SAT is a crossroads of visionary intelligence, futuristic knowledge, and talents in numerous disciplines.
The atypical institution is intended as a culture laboratory in the digital age, an incubator for sometimes ephemeral, often sustainable practices.
The SAT adapts its creative spaces daily for digital art practitioners and the designers of this enormous toolbox that allows new interconnections between sound, image, and live performance. Campus SAT is a training space where the knowledge of its community is taught, popularized, and shared collectively.
The SAT is also a performance space for immersive experiences, concerts, exhibitions, symposiums, festivals, meetings, meals, and drinks. It’s where multidisciplinary artists, DJs, VJs, instrumentalists and other practitioners of the arts in the digital age come to meet, and curious audiences come to keep up with the great innovations in new artistic practices. Performances fill up most of its spaces and make it an haute culture venue for coveted avant-garde entertainment.
This hybrid mission as a centre for transdisciplinary research, training, creation, and performance makes the SAT an absolutely unique organization locally, regionally, nationally, and worldwide. The elevation of spirit and pleasure collide in a daily dive into the future.
Over 20 years of immersion
Over time, the creators/researchers at the SAT have developed tools and processes perfectly in line with their time, leading them to arrange innovative universes, both physical and virtual. Le Cyclorama (2003), Le Panoscope (2005) and Le Panodôme (2008) are examples of this ongoing research on the immersive experience which led, notably, to the installation of the first inflatable dome in the Old Port of Quebec as part of the city’s 400th-anniversary celebration.
In 2011, the dream of a permanent dome became a reality with the construction of an immersive amphitheatre on the roof of the SAT: since then, the Satosphère has been exclusively dedicated to creation; a place where flagship works from here and elsewhere are projected, shared, and executed.
In this modular dome, measuring 18 m in diameter, the SAT immersion team welcomes creators/researchers every day and continues to make advances in sensorial simulation and the networking of different levels of reality in a public context. This expertise has since been exported around the world, notably as part of several Olympic Games ceremonies. The reputation of the Satosphère has expanded and allowed it to realize its first world tour of immersive full-dome shows, launched in autumn 2018.
Needless to say, the SAT has established itself as one of the pioneering immersive art centres. Its creative residencies explore concepts born from various practices (music, video, cinema, animation, dance, theatre…) and give rise to always-innovative hybrid approaches. The most accomplished creations are presented publicly in the Satosphère and then archived with ambitious goals of rebroadcast and foreign distribution. Over 200 immersive experiences have been presented in the Satosphère since its inauguration.
Since 2014, this gained experience led the SAT to annually invite the international immersive art community to come exchange expertise in Montreal during its Symposium iX, reaffirming its desire to increase common knowledge and democratize practices. The network that ensues contributes to expanding the worldwide playground for this promising field.
At the SAT, digital creators from here and elsewhere imagine new ways to process content. They collaborate with other artistic disciplines, but above all, they work hand in hand with researchers in computing and design who develop their creative tools within the SAT’s research lab, the Métalab. Over the years, this lab has acquired an undeniable reputation through establishing numerous innovative programs in the fields of telepresence and immersion, allowing it to be recognized as a public research institute of Quebec and an avant-garde laboratory by its peers. These creative programmers base their research on the Unix philosophy and open software, allowing creators/researchers to remain in control of their content in a software environment that adapts quickly to new situations. By sharing the fruits of their labour, they open their tools and work to society, and ensure their sustainability.
Developing new networking scenography
The work Rendez-vous… sur les bancs publics, the SAT’s first audiovisual telepresence experience (networking interaction) was presented in a context of artistic creation in 1999. Telepresence stations linked the public square adjacent to the Musée d’art contemporain in Montréal to Place d’Youville in Quebec, the objective being to connect two locations that had nothing to do with a conference room. Since then, the SAT has continued its research on low latency transmission in media networks, so as to sustain interaction in real-time in a live show context.
In 2005, the institution considered creating a network of partners for the development of large-scale telepresence events. Twelve years later, in 2017, it succeeded in interconnecting 22 performance venues throughout Quebec thanks to Scenic stations developed by the Métalab. The SAT’s experience in the field of scenic telepresence has sparked the interest of organizations everywhere, even leading some to adopt the device. Artistic events now push telepresence far beyond mere video conferencing, by granting it a vast diversity of audiovisual approaches.
A methodology to explore new uses of technology
On April 14, 2010, the Society for Arts and Technology [SAT] was recognized as the first Living Lab in North America, a full member of the important European network of Living Labs (ENoLL).
For the SAT, the Living Lab is an open and collaborative methodology, allowing the exploration of new uses of technological, interactive, and immersive arts through a process of joint creation and experimentation. The competences and creativity of the SAT’s researchers/programmers are tied to the needs of the user.
In this vein, we note the initial collaboration between the SAT and the CHU Sainte-Justine hospital aiming to humanize hospital care. Between 2012 and 2016, four innovative projects were established to facilitate interaction between young patients and medical staff. To do this, the two institutions conjointly generated therapeutic immersive content to raise awareness amongst parents at risk for domestic accidents and to reduce the perception of pain in children who’ve suffered serious burns.
This approach remains an issue of creativity for several projects and services put forward at the SAT, which promotes the research conducted by its Métalab and the conception and development of innovative applications of its technologies. Our most recent project, to name a compelling example, is a telepresence device aiming to connect public libraries and promote long-distance meetings and knowledge sharing. This project was conducted in collaboration with libraries of the City of Montreal and its users (library staff, residents and facilitators).
The SAT has succeeded in securing several notable international partnerships, starting with La Gaîté Lyrique in Paris, in effect from 2016 to 2022.
Furthermore, the very vocation of gathering art and technology and societal issues is synonymous with innovation. The SAT’s mission undoubtedly remains to contribute audaciously to the emergence of emblematic forms of digital culture. Who knows to which space-time it will teleport us through stimulating exchanges, meetings, labour and games.
Awards and recognition