As a human-powered organisation, are we defined by what we are or by what we do? Are we a biennale, a platform, a network, a label? Or perhaps we’re defined by what we produce, be it exhibitions, creative mentoring, training or events? The answer is all of the above, yet nothing quite captures what makes CHRONIQUES truly unique. To do so, we need to frame it differently: we are what we imagine.
To be what we imagine is to foster ongoing dialogue with artists and their work so that we can join the dots between different visions of society and present them as a whole, as a ‘chronicle’ of the world as it stands, with all its dead ends and escape routes. o be what we imagine is to take a poetic or whimsical approach to achieve an unconventional result, to put down roots and stir up trouble because using the imagination is a supremely political act.
Of no fixed abode but with its own clear territory and history, CHRONIQUES in its current form has been shaped by the contrast and diversity of its dual identity forged in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence. volving as formats have developed and applications have expanded since the early noughties, digital technologies have exerted a growing influence on our lives, which has become a subject of constant discussion. Utopian, dystopian, realistic or fanciful visions, digital arts and cultures, electronic and electroacoustic music, immersive installations, hybrid arts, new writing and virtual worlds represent the range of notes that compose the worlds of possibilities that the teams at CHRONIQUES orchestrate and stage in order to tug on our heart strings, or perhaps unite people around a common theme.
All conducted through a clear strategy. All conducted through a clear strategy. Firstly, to promote artistic creation that explores technological capabilities and the ways they transform our everyday lives and our societies (creative platform, industry meetings, International Market of Digital Arts – MIAN, etc.). Secondly, to create opportunities for the public to step inside these compelling digital imaginary worlds (biennale, other exhibitions, educational initiatives) but also to pass on the artistic know-how of new technologies and crack the code of digital society (Chroniques Campus, training). Third and last, to bring industry professionals together for networking and mutual support around the production, distribution and recognition of digital and hybrid arts (Digital Art Club, biennale opening and closing, Hacnum network).
An organisation in constant development, CHRONIQUES evolves apace with original forms of creativity and aesthetics, keeping its ear to the ground for new subjects and new imaginary realms that can appear in the blink of an eye. But rest assured, it won’t be anything like you could possibly imagine.
CHRONIQUES is the fruit of a rollercoaster of a journey that started in the late 1990s. At that time, the focus was on new information and communication technologies, multimedia cultural spaces and new artistic territories. Emerging artists were staking their claim in web culture, computer coding, electronic music and video games. CHRONIQUES went in two different, but important directions, driven by the cultural emulation of the early days of the internet: Zinc in Marseille and Seconde Nature in Aix-en-Provence.
Inspired by the popular education and emerging culture movement, Zinc was founded in 1998 within the burgeoning and teeming Friche Belle de Mai creative community. The centre brings together thinkers, practitioners and artists around new technologies, offers arts research residencies and sparks public debate through events in different formats, including Nice to meet you and Digital Émeutes. By promoting interaction and new relationships with the public, media labs and digital production, new writing and transmedia, participatory democracy and digital commons, Zinc contributes to the emergence, not to mention the political and economic recognition, of digital cultures.
In 2001, Terre Active created the Arborescence festival at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence, one of the first festivals in France to explore the links between art and technology (code, algorithms, robotics). In 2003, the Biomix collective launched the Territoires Électroniques festival at the Fondation Vasarely, featuring electroacoustic music, performances, DJ sets, VJing, video art and more. In 2007, Seconde Nature was born from the merger of these two events at the point where electronic music and multimedia arts meet. As both a venue and a festival, Seconde Nature looks at what we now call digital technology from the angle of the evolution of the human and living organisms, envisioning technology as a second skin.
Because of the affinity between Zinc and Seconde Nature’s activities, it made sense for both organisations to operate on the same premises. Then, to coincide with the Marseille-Provence European Capital of Culture event in 2013, they put together their first joint project, “E-topies”, a series of exhibitions and performances in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, including the exhibition Chroniques des mondes possibles. omplementary and intersecting programming continued in subsequent years, with, for example, Machines at the Friche Belle de Mai, which was a prototype to what would become the first biennale festival of digital imagination in 2018. Seconde Nature and Zinc fully joined forces in 2016 with the creation of a joint brand, SNZN, an imaginary alliance between tin and zinc, between a bubble and a hexagon, giving rise to a shared logo and website.
CHRONIQUES refers to the programming and distribution activities of the Biennale of Digital Imagination and other public events, the funding of creative activities and support for artists, outreach activities such as education and training, plus networking activities such as the Digital Art Club, industry meetings, MIAN, running the Hacnum network, and European projects.