Broadening the Public Space

The thematic section CYBER / ESPACE / PUBLIC examines some of the issues related to the digital regime of images and their circulation on networks. It explores the many correspondences and reciprocities that are being woven between concrete spaces and various technological devices, whether portable (smartphones, applications of all types, geolocation instruments) or anchored in cyber-networks (such as social media, search engines, and QR codes), that are seamlessly integrated with daily life. In the portfolios, various intermingled temporalities and obvious interpenetrations between the private and public domains and between amateur and professional productions lead to a noticeable transformation of artistic and cultural practices.

This section has been directed by guest editor Suzanne Paquet, professor of art history at the Université de Montréal and photography expert. Paquet has brought together essays by six authors who address these questions based on the work of artists who investigate the new zones opened up by the proliferation and accelerated circulation of images and new mobile devices.

The artists and authors highlight the possibilities of rereading and recontextualization of images contained in huge banks of visual data that sites such as YouTube and Google Street View – in fact, the Web as a whole – have become. Appropriation strategies are used to throw into question the status of creator and bring amateur practices to the forefront. Also examined is the use of blog platforms to transmit interventions in the city, as a means of bringing broader communities together around issues of common interest or, more simply, for their potential for dissemination and the establishment of communities of taste. The use of mobile devices to enhance the experience of a site in real time by superimposing memorial and historical elements on it is analyzed. Finally, artistic practices that interpret the archives of a city and use digital tools to project orientations for its future development are explored.

Thus, the public agora is extended into the digital network. Despite the forces that aim to police and control access to the network and promote consumerism and the breaking down of community into individuals, the network is full of new utopias and multiplies possible communities. It thus becomes the vector of practices that have the potential to radically transform the nature of art and the status of the artist in society.

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This issue is being published as the magazine completes its twenty-fifth year in existence. We have been working for some time to adapt to the digital transformation of the publishing sector. Already, we have put online the complete archives of our first twenty years of publication, developed a digital subscription option for institutions via Érudit, and have an active presence on Facebook. We are pleased to announce that the Ciel variable Web sites are now adapted for mobile screens and that you can now purchase individual subscriptions and articles in digital format directly from our site. The digital version of the magazine is also available free of charge to all our subscribers who make the request. New initiatives related to our content and to an increased presence on social networks are currently being developed. There’s more to come!

Jacques Doyon
Translated by Käthe Roth

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