For 19 years, the Subtle Technologies Festival has explored a variety of themes from the hybrid perspective of integrated arts and sciences.
The organization was founded in 1997 when Jim Ruxton and Pamela Brown brought together a group of artists to explore the creation of an interactive installation in downtown Toronto. As research for the project, they organized a weekend event hosted by InterAccess Media Arts Centre called Subtle Technologies. This experimental meet-up would bring together artists, scientists, makers and thinkers of all varieties to share their work and their ideas. The event was extremely popular with those who attended and Jim, an artist and engineer, moved forward with the model, seeing the need for an organization that pursued interdisciplinary collaboration.
In 2002, the organization was able to establish a solid financial base for operational costs and programming with support from the Ontario Arts Council, Canadian Heritage and Canada Council for the Arts. Jim Ruxton continued as Director of Programs until 2015, assisted by previous staff members over the years that have made invaluable contributions and steered the direction of the organization. They include Roberta Buiani, Jen Dodd, Sachiko Hirosue, Angella Mackey, Tania Thompson and Catherine Taylor.
Since its inception, Subtle Technologies has forged new ground as a public forum and platform for makers and thinkers working at the nexus of art, science and technology. Our annual thematic festival has explored a diverse range of topics, including Light, Sound, Responsive Architecture, Sustainability, Medicine and Immortality among others. These activities have impacted the media arts and scientific communities within Canada and abroad by serving as a hub for professional development, exchange and research. The Festival has purposely gathered provocative mixtures of local and international participants from disparate disciplines to expose them to one another’s work and address critical issues that connect their practices and geographies. Specifically, ST has exhibited and promoted projects that pose new challenges and invite further collaboration in the areas of open-source culture, citizen science and sustainability.
Subtle Technologies has also impacted its local community through partnerships with a number of Toronto cultural organizations including Hot Docs Film Festival, New Adventures In Sound Art, Fields Institute for Mathematics, Perimeter Institute, OCAD University, Year Zero One, Planet in Focus, Hart House, Continuum Contemporary Music, Theatre Centre and InterAccess, among others.