At the SAT, the idea of using videoconferencing in an artistic context goes back a long way. The first such event, entitled Rendez-vous... sur les bancs publics, was organized in 1999, with a live connection set up between one telepresence station in Montreal, in front of the Musée d’art contemporain, and another in Quebec City, at the Place d’Youville. Created by Luc Courchesne and Monique Savoie, this event invited pedestrians in the two cities to begin “accidental” conversations as part of a creative project designed to show the artistic possibilities of a technology which, in those days, was still mostly restricted to conference rooms.
After 1999, further research into telepresence was developed with the goal of simplifying long-distance communication by operating in both point-to-point (unicast) and multipoint modes. This research was part of the Open Territories [TOT] program. The first two phases of TOT culminated in the development of “teleCHACHA,” an open-source telepresence suite which enables high-quality, bi-directional video in real time over broadband networks. Standard DV cameras can be used to capture the audio and video signals, which are sent in duplex transmission mode with full-screen resolution (720 x 480) using the Digital Video Transport System (DVTS) protocol.
From these initial stages PropulseART
was born. The project emphasizes three main lines of research:
Whereas the first experiments with a telepresence station had relied on widely available video chat software, such as iChat or Skype, that made it possible for different communities to link up with each other, PropulseART
started from scratch. It sought to design more systematic tools that met the real needs of anyone who might need to rely on a user-friendly network that connects audiovisual, stage and information systems between cultural venues. This group would include artists, producers, event promoters, venue operators, audiences outside of the regular tour circuit for cultural events, community-based media groups, remote populations, and long-distance training organizations.