Nathanaël Lécaudé sends along a lovely video that reveals some of the brilliant hacking scene in Montreal, centering on the Foulab collective and hackspace. The mini-documentary doesn’t assume you’ve heard of things like oscilloscopes and circuit bending, so it could be a good one to pass along to friends and family who haven’t seen this stuff before. This is just one slice of what I know is a fantastically creative scene in Montreal and Québec. Featured:

  • A custom oscilloscope made from a repurposed CRT, by Andrew MacGillivray
  • A 1938 teletype machine, rescued by Redbeard
  • An original boom box made from recycled parts by Maxster
  • XC3N working with modified 8-bit game systems

The creator asks in the YouTube description:

A look into the hardware hacking community in Montreal, including the Foulab collective. Why are more and more hobbyists experimenting with hacks and circuit bends? What relationship does this imply about consumer society and technological advancement? Is this a real-world analog of ‘user generated content’?

My answers: the Internet; getting your hands dirty rocks; yes. (Feel free to add your own.)

By the way, I’m trying to figure out just what quote is getting quoted at the end. I believe it may actually be a direct quote of someone slightly changing this Marshall McLuhan quote:

“You shape your tools and they shape you. It’s a loop. You start out a consumer and you wind up consumed.”

Actually, I can tell I’m an electronic musician at heart, because that sounds pretty good to me – and suggests the ways in which the consumer tools and DIY tools are both entangled in our creative process, perhaps in interesting ways. But perhaps someone can untangle the provenance of these words – please feel free; I find the readers of this site often know more than I do.

  • dajebus

    Hey my hometown!
    The "scene" is huge here with tons of shows and the like. It's all very underground. The winters are long so we need something to do.

    Nice documentary but what is up with the narrator??

  • Hey, the narration was nothing if not entertaining.

    "These devices use something called … electricity. It's like a magical invisible juice that makes things go. Or something."

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  • I think Montreal is great. I wish I live there!

  • I was the one that made that remark in the video. It think it is probably a derivative of the quote you posted, although I'm sure I read it in a different form.

    My intention was to point out that if you think of tools as static things, you have to limit your creativity to what is possible with current tools. Being able to modify or make tools that do exactly what you want changes the rules of the game; now you can do anything that is possible, given enough time and dedication.

    Basically, your goals should determine the tool you use and not the other way around.

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  • I really enjoyed watching that documentry 🙂

    Also the quote is great, i am going to remember that one thanks for taking to the time to hunt down the specifics 🙂

  • Hi there!

    Thanks for reposting my mini doc! It was a blast to make. I'll be putting up more of this kind of stuff in the near future. I'm launching a multimedia website next month.

    Yeah, my vocal delivery is a bit funny in that flick. I was trying out a new reading style, which I probably won't repeat. But, as you said, I really tried to make the information accessible and understandable, because the public at large is hungry for insight into this scene, but all the existing videos are really involved and generally for other hardcore enthusiasts.

    When I was first making it I asked a bunch of people what an oscilloscope was and what a hack was and what a bend was and most people have no real idea. So I think it's pretty important to make it understood.

    Peace, and keep tinkering!

    PS, re: Mutek, here's my recent coverage of that for my job:….

    We'll be releasing podcasts and videos of the festival is it happens.

    -Jack Oatmon aka Tom Smith

  • I keep telling myself I want to start a maker's group (or hackerspace, or whatever you want to call it – same thing, really) here in Port Huron/Detroit area. It's difficult to find people who are up for that kind of thing.

    I'd like to repeat my request: if anyone here is from the Detroit area and would like to engage in some hackery, please contact me: dmlandrum at gmail (and you know the rest). 🙂

    Good job on shooting this doco, by the way. The finished product has quite a nice, polished look to it.

  • Simon

    My hometown! (almost, I was born there but live in the suburbs, in Laval). I love the scene in Québec.

    The entire province has about the population of NYC and we're kind of forgotten by our …dear canadian friends, so everybody tsicks together.
    That basically means our ''national'' scene is in fact a ''city'' scene; more or less everything revolves around Montreal and Québec City.

    On se voit à Mutek!

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