The work of Canadian interdisciplinary artist Marc Couroux is firmly rooted in experiences developed while active as a contemporary music pianist. Acclaimed by one writer as “the Glenn Gould of contemporary music”, Couroux won the OPUS Award for “Discovery of the Year” in 1998, attributed by the Conseil Québécois de la Musique for his work in disseminating Canadian piano music around the world (Amsterdam, Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Ludwigsburg, Paris). His early (piano performance) works were centered around the reinvention and renewal of the audience-performer dialectic, challenging the received and seldom questioned notion of the performer’s physical presence within the sociopolitical confines of the public event. In 1999, he created the monumental American Dreaming John Cassavetes and the following year (2000), le contrepoint académique (sic) was presented at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, a work described as “controversial”, “demented” and “illuminated”.
As video/sound artist, Couroux is concerned with creating spaces where sociopolitical issues can be explored. His Rockford – Keep on Rolling superimposes images from the 1970’s TV show onto a power grid, reflecting the other Los Angeles, plunged into rolling blackouts during the Energy Crisis of 2000. Rockford has been presented in a number of international festivals, including the prestigious Club Transmediale in Berlin in 2006 and Portland’s PDX Fest (Peripheral Produce) in May 2009. In 2003, Couroux presented a work for piano and 17 mini-speakers, Blowback at Breakfast: a Dr. Kissinger Mystery, a Watergate-era environment centered around wiretapping and surveillance, with Henry Kissinger as main protagonist-pianist, dryly reciting congressional testimony while simultaneously leaking vital secrets to the listener. In 2006, Watergating (Selected Hearings), a large-scale audio-video performance work was presented at the Vasistas festival in Montreal; in this work, the concepts of hearing (acoustical phenomena) and listening (socially or politically mediated hearing), were critically investigated through the lens of the Watergate scandal of 1973-4. In 2007, Couroux presented two offshoots of Watergating: Carpenters et al, Downey Lyrical Holdings, a Real-Time System as of March 29, 2007 was concerned with exploring concepts emanating from and associated with technology, through non-technological means (such as delay), and was performed by neither/nor in Toronto; The Fetishization of Music and the Regression in Listening, (with Juliana Pivato) presented in Edmonton in 2007 as part of Latitude 53’s Visualeyez festival of interdisciplinary art, was a performance intervention designed to operate a form of Situationist détournement on the musak environment. Couroux is presently at work on a 6-hour audio-video work—68/70 (blindspots) (truth 24 times per second)—part of which was presented at CounterPULSE in San Francisco in October 2009.
In 1997 Marc Couroux founded Ensemble KORE in Montréal with composer Michael Oesterle in order to recreate a living relationship between the composer and the listener. Couroux was visiting professor at the Dartington College of Arts (UK) in 2004 and was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Alberta in 2003, where he worked both with music and visual art students. He was Artist-in-Residence at Princeton University in 1996 (through the National Endowment for the Arts) and has lectured on music and video art at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, the Eastman School of Music, The University of York (England), the Royal Conservatory (The Hague), McGill University (Montréal) and Concordia University (Montréal).