Company name: iMAL
Interviewed person: Lucía García

What is iMAL and how did it emerge?

A: iMAL is a place for the research, production and dissemination of new forms of creation arising from the critical and creative use of technology. A pioneering space in Belgium dedicated to digital culture and new media that, for over 23 years, has been working at the intersection between art, science, technology and society.

In 2012, iMAL launched one of the first fablabs in Brussels. A laboratory with all the necessary technology (3D design and printing, laser cutting, CNC, etc.) for the rapid prototyping of ideas and projects, and which also has the singularity of being the only one located within a centre for artistic research and production.

You have just signed a collaboration agreement with the Chamber, how can iMAL contribute to the presence of Spanish creative industries in Belgium and Europe? How can the Chamber’s members benefit from this agreement?

A: iMAL is a space that is open and permeable to proposals. Through our programme, which is composed of four areas – exhibition programme, research and production residencies, educational programme and public programme – we want to foster the exchange between the community of artists, designers and creators, academics and scientists and citizens from Belgium and abroad.

In addition, iMAL is part of several European consortiums of transnational cooperation, from which we will address issues such as extended realities, the metaverse or the critical and creative approach to Artificial Intelligence, which will also allow us to disseminate our local productions on these other platforms.

Under the agreement we have just signed, Chamber members can establish an open dialogue with iMAL, accessing our programming (exhibitions, festivals, workshops, laboratories) on a preferential basis or organising events or presentations at our facilities at a special rate. The collaboration can extend to the co-production or co-organisation of specific activities – for example, the creation of a prize for Spanish artists who produce in our laboratories and show the results in our space. I think the important thing is to pave the way for potential alliances with the Spanish creative industries, which is the ultimate goal of the Agreement. From there, the possibilities are endless.

In addition to exhibitions, you can organise guided tours, workshops and even host artist residencies. What options does iMAL offer to both the general and specialized public?

A: The exhibitions are also conceived as educational tools, from which we develop workshop programmes aimed at different audiences: professionals, school students, university students, groups at risk of exclusion or the general public. We also offer talks, round tables, workshops, performances and screenings on the themes of the exhibitions.

With this agreement, we offer preferential access to all these activities, and we hope that the agreement will serve to encourage the active participation of the Chamber’s member companies in our programme.

In 2020 you expanded your infrastructure to continue supporting art, culture and the digital revolution, what are the challenges and goals for the coming years?

A: Technology and science are among the most powerful forces transforming, influencing and shaping our society at all levels. At iMAL, we would like to stress the importance of the role of culture in order to achieve a more democratic and sensitive socio-cultural technology, which can effectively address the challenges we face as a society.

IMAL wants to continue fostering the capacity of art to develop, renew and perfect the tools and capacities we have at our disposal in a way that allows us to face contemporary problems. In this sense, over the next few years, we will pay special attention to the most emerging creation, without losing sight of the pioneering digital creations. Here I would like to highlight the exhibition “The Artwork as a Living System. 30 years of interactive art”, by the artistic duo Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau, which will be inaugurated on 14 April 2023.

Another initiative we will be launching is “Urban Lab: Tomorrow’s Habitats”. A research, production and dissemination project that will take different forms: artists’ residencies, exhibitions, performances, conferences, etc.

These are very broad and ambitious frameworks for which we will need good travelling companions, hence the great value and importance we attach to the signing of this agreement.