Avatar is dedicated to the research, creation, circulation and dissemination of audio and electronic artworks and artists. To support artistic practice, Avatar produces projects, invites artists, reflects on practices, and fosters new collaborations via a local and international network.
Located in the heart of Québec City, Avatar offers a venue for interactions and initiatives, explores new artistic territories, and facilitates access to equipment and specialized skills.
In North America, Avatar is a pioneer in the research on audio and electronic arts.
At Avatar, sound creation covers a broad field of activities, ranging from the creation of listening devices, and the invention of musical instruments, to audio installation, including performance, radio art, and sound sculpture. Audio art crosses over the fields of music, visual arts, and poetry, opening itself to hybrid forms of audible performance, acoustic excavations and environments. Avatar also takes part in the development of the programming of custom-made software and electronic interfaces, as well as interactive and kinetic installation systems, and telematic performances.
Avatar is a member of the Méduse cooperative, the RCAAQ ( Regroupement des centres d'artistes autogérés du Québec), the CQAM (Conseil québécois des arts médiatiques), the RAIQ (Regroupement des arts interdisciplinaires du Québec), the IMAA (Independent Media Arts Alliance), and the ENCAC (European Network for Contemporary Audiovisual Creation).
Avatar was founded in Quebec City in 1993, by Pierre-André Arcand, Bernard Bonnier, Christof Migone, James Partaik, Jocelyn Robert, and Charles-Éric Savard.
In 1995 Avatar set up shop in the Méduse Complex, which brought together producers and presenters dedicated to the arts, culture, and community outreach. Its workspaces are specially designed for electronic and audio production, making it one of the few Canadian organizations—if not the only one—specializing in audio art. From 1995 to 2001, Avatar hosted numerous artists for research and development work, organized its first showings, and established partnerships and residency programs with local and international organizations.
From 2001 to 2005, Avatar consolidated its electronic lab activities, making them an official part of its work. The centre also began uploading its program of commissioned works, entitled Excavation sonore, to its website. Over the years, its publishing division, OHM éditions, explored new media to adapt to artists’ needs. The centre set up its own distribution company, VacuOhm, to complement the services provided to artists in light of the dissolving boundaries between production and distribution. Avatar thus became the first distributer in all of Canada to specialize in new media.
From 2005 to 2007, Avatar began a major market development campaign (free distribution of Œuvres avouées = Avowed Works to exhibition organizers and curators), thus cementing its international presence. At the same time, the centre established a strong global network of collaborators, which led to major shows, including Avatar exhibitions at the Vooruit arts centre (Belgium, 2006) in Paris (France, 2006), and at the Tesla centre (Germany, 2007). In the ensuing years, Avatar bolstered many of its presentation and production partnerships (Mois Multi, Manif d’art, etc.), launched new initiatives such as Avatar@l’école, and published numerous works (Covers, La chute, Disco sec, Luigi’s Avatar, etc.).
With the development of training activities (workshops) in 2008, the commissioning of the first works by its artists (Manon Labrecque’s Mécanismes de réanimation in 2009, Caroline Gagné’s Cargo in 2011, and Diane Morin’s Cordes in 2013), presentation of the Échographies des œuvres en art audio et électronique conference (2011), the establishment of the artistic direction committee (2011-2012), and the restructuring of the publishing and distribution divisions (by reviewing the distribution process, dismantling OHM and VacuOhm in favour of a single entity called Avatar, and more), the centre revealed the full scope of its knowledge and expertise and cemented its place as a media arts leader not just in Canada, but worldwide.
In 2013 Avatar celebrated its 20th anniversary with major events and side activities,.