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Dr. Matt Soar, PhD

Professor, BA Programs Director, Communication Studies

Dr. Matt Soar, PhD
Office: L-CJ 4329 
Communication Studies and Journalism Building,
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2542
Website(s): Les Enseignistes de Montréal
Montreal Signs Project
Lost Leaders: The metadata of film
Flight YMX
Availability: Office hours by appointment.

I am an intermedia artist, filmmaker and writer, with a scholarly background in design, media studies, and cultural studies. My research-creation activities usually lie at the juncture of residual and emergent media forms. My primary teaching area is Intermedia; I have also taught courses on cultural production and media ethnography, and signs and public lettering. My graduate degrees in Communication are from Simon Fraser University (MA) and the University of Massachusetts Amherst (PhD).


1. SIGNS AND PUBLIC LETTERING: I am the director and co-founder of the Montréal Signs Project. My recent FQRSC Appui à la recherche-création grant, titled Les enseignes de Montréal: Culture, technologie, patrimoine, was in three parts: Les Enseignistes de Montréal, an interactive web documentary about the histories of signmaking in Montreal (co-director Dayna McLeod), a gallery installation on human migration and land rights in collaboration with Montreal artist Cheryl Sim called YMX, and an expansion of the current permanent exhibition of the Montréal Signs Project. Recent acquisitions include Steinberg supermarkets, MARS Comics/Bandes Dessinées, and Boite Noire video store.  

2. LOST LEADERS: An ongoing research-creation project driven by a singular fascination with film leader countdowns, treated as the forgotten 'metadata' of analog film. Outcomes have included cameraless 'handwritten' animation, interactive films, stained glass, photomontage, and videomicroscopy. ASANASA (2019) is the most recent creative outcome (see image below); this short non-narrative film premiered in December 2019 at New Experimental Works / Avant to Live (ATA/OtherCinema, San Francisco). It is screening at Fantasia, Antimatter, Engauge, MUFF, Dreamers of Dreams, and SF IndieFest. Soar's definitive introduction to the historical development of US/Canadian film leader standards appeared in the journal The Moving Image in 2016.

3. DATABASE STORYTELLING: From 2012 to 2015 I was Principal Investigator on a SSHRC Research/Creation in the Fine Arts grant titled Adventures in Research-Creation. My teammate was Dr. Monika Kin Gagnon, and our collaborators were Florian Thalhofer, Phil Hoffman, and Midi Onodera. Our event Database | Narrative | Archive, an international symposium on digital nonlinear storytelling, was held at Concordia in May 2011; Dr Gagnon and I subsequently co-edited the DNA Anthology, a post-symposium collection of seven nonlinear, interactive essays built using Scalar. From 2008 to 2016 I was codirector of development for the Korsakow System. In May 2015, Phil Hoffman launched his Korsakow film Racing Home, an extended, lyrical exercise in 'posthumous cinema'.

A still from ASANASA (2019)

Graduate Supervision

PhD students (current/recent)

Chrys Vilvang (2020 -      ) tbc

Myriam Rafla (2013 - 2016). I Am Story. [research-creation]

Dr. Jacqueline Wallace (2009-2014). Women’s Creative Labour: DIY networks and the indie crafts movement.

Dr. Mélanie Hogan (2008-2012). Crashing the Archive: A Research-Creation Intervention into the SAW Video Mediatheque [research-creation] 

MA students (current/recent)

Daniela Silva (2020 -      ). Lunchbox: A Diasporic Still Life During a Global Pandemic [research-creation]

Catherine Poitras (2019-2020). The Stellifying Fabulist: A Journey through Toxic City / La Stellaire Fabuliste : Bienvenue à Toxic Cité. [research-creation] 

Bradley Peppinck (2017-2019). Reconciliation Journalism. [research-creation]

Jaëlle Dutremble-Rivet (2017-2019). Parlons Montréal: Exploring Young Montrealers’ Linguistic Identity. [research-creation]

Michael Iantorno (2017 - 2019). Sub-Versions: Investigating Videogame Hacking Practices and Subcultures.

Andrea Marek (2016-2017). Adult animation in film and television [research-creation]

Belinda Oldford (2013 - 2016). Auteur Animation: Drawing out urban homelessness [research-creation]

David Widgington (2012-2014). Archival (de/re)Sedimentation: Creating an Active Archive of The Political Graphics of the Maple Spring [research-creation]

Jordan Coulombe (2012-2014). Designing a Historically-minded Literary Zine about Contemporary Gay Men’s Culture in Canada. (Co-supervisor) [research-creation]


My book chapter about the cultural lives of the film leader countdown, eg in avant-garde films and music videos, appears in The Routledge Encyclopedia of Media Technology and Obsolescence (2018), edited by Mark Wolf. My essay The Beginnings and the Ends of Film: Leader Standardization in the United States and Canada (1930-1999) was published in The Moving Image 16(2) Fall 2016. A short piece called Memory, Materiality, and the Montreal Signs Project appears in Atzmon, L. and Boradkar, P. (2017) (Eds.) Encountering Things, published by Bloomsbury. My contribution to the edited collection New Documentary Ecologies (Palgrave McMillan 2014) is titled Making (with) the Korsakow System: Database Documentaries as Articulation and Assemblage. Another essay, If you’re asking it’s not fair dealing: Animating Canadian copyright issues in a read-write classroom appears in R. Coombe & D. Henry (Eds.) (2014) Dynamic Fair Dealing: Creating Canadian culture online (University of Toronto Press). My short essay 26 ways of thinking about a graphic advocacy poster appears in Liz Resnick’s Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age (2001-2012).

Workshops, Shows, Panels, Residencies

I recently participated in a collaborative video project called EXC-19, an 'exquisite corpse' intervention conceived by Toronto-based artist Midi Onodera. EXC-19 involved over 100 artists, producing a total of almost 70 finished videos.

ASANASA (2019) premiered at New Experimental Works / Avant to Live (ATA/OtherCinema, San Francisco) in December 2019. This is the final film in my Lost Leaders trilogy. Or not. ASANASA is also an official selection at the Fantasia, Antimatter, and Engauge film festivals.

In October 2019 I had a one-week artists residency at Maine College of Art in Portland. This included a 16mm cameraless film animation workshop with a senior graphic design class, a formal talk about the Montréal Signs Project, participation in the retrospective DesignInquiry gallery show, live-streamed panel discussion and convivium, and studio visits with MFA students. 

My web documentary Les Enseignistes de Montréal, co-directed and edited by Dayna McLeod, was finished in May 2018. Screenings include 
Sign Expo 2018 and the Lost River Film Fest 2018. In Fall 2017 I presented version 1.0 of Les Enseignistes and an overview of my Lost Leaders project at the annual ATypI conference.

My short film Love Leaders screened at the 11th Orphan Film Symposium, held at the Museum of the Moving Image in NYC in April 2018. It was also shown at ATA/OtherCinema in San Francisco the following month, and at Engauge Experimental Film Festival (Seattle Nov 2018). Love Leaders is the second in a planned trilogy of films for Lost Leaders.

In June 2017 I co-presented a paper titled Migration, Media Archaeology, and the Montréal-Mirabel International Airport at Poetics & Politics of Documentary 3 (University of Sussex, England) with outstanding grad student Danica Evering. In Winter 2017 I co-curated YMX: Migration, Land, and Loss after Mirabel, a show created in collaboration with artist Cheryl Sim, and grads Danica Evering and Treva Pullen, featuring two Solari split-flap passenger information displays. YMX ran for two weeks in the CJ Media Gallery in late January and a further two weeks in early March at Gallery POPOP in the Belgo Building.

From 2008 to 2016 I was co-developer of the Korsakow System, a software application for nonlinear storytelling. I have taught dozens of Korsakow workshops, eg Concordia, UdM, Montreal Encuentro, NYU, RMIT, USC, and the Universities of Bologna, Colorado, and Western Sydney. In May 2016 I was part of a 'critical karaoke' panel at the Canadian Communication Association annual conference in Calgary, with a very short presentation titled 'Flight YMX: Migration, Remediation, and Montreal-Mirabel International Airport'.

In April 2016 I premiered a 'handwritten' cameraless animation at the 10th Orphan Film Symposium in Culpeper, VA, and gave a short talk as part of the McCord Museum's Échanges Urbains lecture series. In May 2015 I gave a talk on Lost Leaders at Poetics & Politics of Documentary 2 (UCSC). In May 2014 I was part of a research-creation panel at the International Communication Association’s annual conference in Seattle. In October 2014 I had a two-week residency at the Banff Centre, which led to this short artist's profile (note to self: don't talk publicly about your work until you fully understand your object of study).

In March 2014 I had a brief artist’s residency at the Media Archaeology Lab at UC Boulder. During the same trip I gave an artist’s talk at Counterpath in Denver about Lost Leaders (thanks to Dr. Mél Hogan for making the introductions). In March 2014 I presented on Lost Leaders at the ninth Orphan Film Symposium, in Amsterdam.


ASANASA (35mm, 16mm to digital). Montreal Underground Film Festival (Montreal, May 2021).

ASANASA (35mm, 16mm to digital). Engauge Experimental Film Festival (Seattle, October 2020).

ASANASA (35mm, 16mm to digital). Antimatter [MediaArt] (Victoria BC, October 2020).

ASANASA (35mm, 16mm to digital). Festival Fantasia - Les Fantastiques week-ends du cinéma québécois (Montreal, August 2020).

ASANASA (35mm, 16mm to digital). New Experimental Works, ATA/OtherCinema (San Francisco, December 2019).

Les Enseignistes de Montréal (web doc). Lost River Film Festival (San Marcos, TX, Nov 2018).

LOVE LEADERS. Engauge Experimental Film Festival (Seattle, WA, Nov 2018).

Les Enseignistes de Montréal. Sign Expo Canada 2018. Sign Association of Canada / Association Canadienne de l’enseigne annual trade show (Toronto Sept 2018)

Les Enseignistes de Montréal. Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University (Montreal Sept 2018).

Love Leaders
 (35mm, 16mm, to digital). ATA/OtherCinema (San Francisco, May 2018).

Love Leaders
 (35mm, 16mm, to digital). Orphan Film Symposium (Museum of the Moving Image, NYC, April 2018).

Untitled/Film Farm Alfabet (16mm to digital). VISIONS (Lumiere, Montreal, April 2018). 

Academy/Society/Universal: 3 Handwritten Leader Standards. ATA/ OtherCinema (San Francisco, December 2017).

Les Enseignistes de Montréal (web documentary, v. 1.0; co-director Dayna McLeod). Association Typographique Internationale (UQAM, Montreal, September 2017).

Bullfought (16mm hand-tinted short film). Alchemy Film Festival (Hawick, Scotland, March 2017). Premiere.

Academy/Society/Universal: 3 Handwritten Leader Standards. Premiered at Orphans X (Packard Campus, Library of Congress, Culpeper VA, March 2016).

Lost Leaders #1 and Lost Leaders #18 ‘Handwritten Universal (PH22.55-1966)’. Poetics & Politics 2 (UCSC, Santa Cruz, May 2015).

Lost Leaders #18 ‘Handwritten Universal (PH22.55-1966)’. New Experimental Works (ATA/OtherCinema, San Francisco, May 2015).

Not As I Do (2009) and Untitled/Film Farm Alfabet (2009). A Pact with the Process: 20 Years of Film Farm (Pleasure Dome, Toronto, September 2014).

Lost Leaders #1. Montreal Underground Film Festival, May 2014.

Lost Leaders #14. FUSE #2: Mobile Interactive Microcinema. (Ann Arbor, April 2014).

Lost Leaders #14. Orphan Film Symposium (Amsterdam, March 2014).

Ceci N’est Pas Embres (2012, database diary film) selected for the Docs 2.0 section of RIDM 2013.

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