Les Garages Numériques: celebrating music and digital arts inside La Bourse

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This week, Brussels is the stage for the third edition of the multifaceted Les Garages Numériques, a digital arts festival that combines the best of electronic music, art installations and digital culture. From Thursday November 7 until Monday November 11, everyone is welcome at La Bourse, which in all fairness, is a pretty impressive and exclusive location. Before you swing by the many mesmerizing art installations or avant-garde live sets, promoter Dorian Meeus (also known for throwing the Under My Garage events) was kind enough to answer our questions.

Hi Dorian. A Digital Arts Festival; what does that mean exactly?

Les Garages Numériques is a festival dedicated to digital culture and its many multidisciplinary aspects. We’re situated on the crossroads between culture, art and music; and we focus on the diversity and richness of our guests. There’s an emphasis on digital and contemporary installations, audio-visual performances, conferences, professional meetings and electronic music. In doing so, we show two different faces; one for the daytime and one for the night-time. We know many electronic music fans will come down to dance to their favourite artists, so we hope to add other forms of art and digital culture into their nightlife experience.

This is the third edition of Les Garages Numériques. What have you learned in those three years?

We've learned that mixing nightlife and art inside an atypical location can be very appealing. Even if people don't know it yet, they are ready for this kind of innovative and demanding event. That's why we use electronic music and club culture as a kind of bait to lure in our prey, the audience (laughs). They get in to have a party, and a day later they come back with their friends and family because they discovered an exhibition they were not expecting. Maybe after that, they will join us on our ArtScience Night or other professional meetings.

La Bourse is a fantastic location. Was it not hard to score such an iconic spot?

We knew the building was vacant (or better, in transition). At first, we wanted to contact the City of Brussels with the request a permit for a massive party with our Under My Garage event, right inside the Brussels Stock Exchange. Once we met the project director, we understood very quickly that she was more interested in art. And so we decided our Les Garages Numériques project suited the elegant venue better. In the end, that was for the better. We want to avoid organizing a rave that people will forget quickly. Our festival usually leaves a lasting impression on its visitors because it's a complete experience. During these five days, La Bourse will be transformed into an oasis, a moment outside space and time, inspiring participants to be intoxicated with the visual and sound creations made by a generation of local and international artists who invent tomorrow’s culture.

Les Garages Numériques is all about mixing modern nightlife and art inside an atypical location.

More and more, we've seen urban festivals like yours expand their program with lectures, installations, etc. How can you explain that trend?

We didn't expand our program. The exhibition, the talks and the music have always represented the central axis of the Les Garages Numériques. Since 2016, we offer an editorialised panorama of digital and electronic art and music cultures. Throughout the year, we put together varied yet complementary projects ranging from the production of artistic works to the organisation of events. The festival nurtures transversality, artistic openness, and multiplying incursions on many creative playgrounds, like design, image, graphic design, architecture and scenography.

On what basis did you select this year’s artists?

The programme comes from the same vision as the one that guides our Under My Garage events, with the only exception being that we can take more risks at Les Garages Numériques. We can pick up experimental and crazy artists that you wouldn’t easily book in a regular nightclub. And yet, people are enthusiastically dancing to performances from artists like Aïsha Devi or Transforma. The ideal evening for our visitors would start with a tour of the exhibition before watching an audio-visual performance. After that, they are welcome to let loose on a DJ- or live set until daybreak.

Which artists or installations are you most excited about?

This year, we’re very excited about the 3D Sound Room. Basically, this is a room filled with haze, pillows, beds and trippy visuals where the music is played live on an octophonic sound system (i.e. eight spatialized speakers). The result is an immersive and hypnotic experience from which you can hardly escape. Other than that, I'm very excited to see Aïsha Devi & MFO, Kali Malone, Roly Porter and Kate Miller. Honestly, I couldn't pick a favourite installation; they're all mind-blowing!