LES COURANTS | L’état des matières II + ateliers | Katherine Melançon


As part of its Slow Tech program, Ada X presents Les courants, a series of activities in collaboration with the Maison de la Culture and the Rivière-des-Prairies library. Running from September 2019 to May 2021, this initiative offered an introduction to the world of digital arts for young people and families.

Katherine Melançon and students from Jean-Grou School

“For this project, which is both exhibition and workshop, Montreal artist Katherine Melançon and the participating students explored the area around the Jean-Grou school in Rivière-des-Prairies, collecting plants and other organic matter that could be adapted to the digitization process. This first step is critical: it involves activating one’s sense of observation and taking a different look at the world that surrounds us on a daily basis—in the students’ case, the school’s immediate environment. During the workshops’ next step, students could draw inspiration from Melançon’s work in Scanography, which is at the heart of her artistic practice. Through her process, a transfiguration of the elements is at work, from analog material to digital volatility: they emerge flattened, two-dimensional, but with a sense of depth and movement, amplified by the role of light in the image transfer. Scanography has a performative aspect, since the elements must be manipulated in such a way as to play with the photographic parameters: depth of field, texture, focus, etc. As the artist notes, we are faced with a symbolic process where organic materials become a type of digital seed, which is “replanted” into new materials—paper, textile or polymer. Among the digital images printed on paper and video animations on flat screens, the exhibition also included vinyl prints, objects rather than images, which were strategically displayed in the ancestral hearth in the Pierre-Chartrand house’s exhibition room. This micro collection of organic matter emulations resembles a scroll covered with a foliage pattern; a form reminiscent of liquorice; an object whose shape suggests pizza and doughnuts suspended in the hearth by lime green netting. Inspired by a still life by Juan Sánchez Cotán entitled Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber (1602), this fireplace installation allowed the artist to share with the students one of the possible ways of linking the past to the present through artistic creation: she asked them to look for the original work on their cell phones, and then explained how she had created hers. Each of Melançon’s workshops were also an opportunity to propose a theme linking their practice with the works they were going to create, the techniques used, and the history of art. These 15-20-minute workshops included digital art, collage, camera-less photography and land art. Following the digitizing stage, the next step was to create a file in the open source software Gimp and explore the digital editing potential in order to achieve the final rendition of the works. In addition, there was a trip to a FabLab, which featured 3D printing and 3D scanning that could generate augmented reality. The final result was an exhibition held from December 18, 2019 to March 22, 2020 on the youth floor of the Rivière-des-Prairies Library.” — Nathalie Bachand

This program, carried out in collaboration with the Maison de la Culture and the Rivière-des-Prairies library, receives financial support from the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications and the City of Montréal as part of the Agreement on the Cultural Development of Montréal.


Image by Karine Gilles and Zoe Hebert Duquette, 2019