DEMO22 Max Boutin – Texturologies

June 2022

This DEMO presents Max Boutin’s [student member, UQAM] doctoral exhibition, Texturologies, presented at the Agora Hydro-Québec in Montreal, from April 22 to 26, 2022.

In an experiential approach articulating research-creation and skateboarding, this doctoral exhibition proposes to experiment with the vibratory, visual and sound potential of Montreal’s ground texture. It presents skateboarding as a way of exploring the surface of urban space where the materials that make up the ground can generate a certain rhythm, a certain musicality and reveal the city’s vibratory identity Texturologies is an installative, mutlimedia and haptic exhibition offering a drifting, sliding and rubbing experience. It is a vibratory experience of the urban fabric through the subjectivity of skateboarding.

Texturologies is an installative exhibition developed in the context of a PhD in Art Studies and Practices, the first iteration of which was presented at the Agora Hydro-Québec in April 2022.


    Texturologies is an installative exhibition developed in the context of a PhD in Art Studies and Practices, the first iteration of which was presented at the Agora Hydro-Québec in April 2022.
    The intention of this project is to question skateboarding as a sensory practice through which urban spaces and their architectural forms are reinterpreted in action, through a performative, tactile and sonic approach.
    The city is an environment to explore, it is a place of textures with an experiential potential, where the materials that make up the ground can generate, when skating, a certain rhythm and musicality. Each space reveals its own vibratory and acoustic identity.

    The exhibition proposes a texturological reading of various Montreal skateboard spots that were chosen for their textural richness, their materiality and their vibratory potential:

    • Olympic Stadium
    • PLAF (Lafontaine Park)
    • Peace Park (la Place de la Paix)
    • Place des Arts
      • Parterre du quartier des spectacles
      • Place des arts
      • Place des festivals
    • Peel Park (Dorchester Square)
    • Belvedere (Belvedere Kondiaronk)

    Texturologie vibratoire is the main component of the exhibition. It is a haptic, video, and sound installation that explores different spots in Montreal through the subjective view of a skateboard. Its vibratory sensation are felt physically by the viewer’s body. The installation is made of a double channel video projection on a concrete screen, a wood panel screen, speakers and a haptic module equipped with tactile transducers. Texturologie (prints) is a series of performative embossings made by printing the texture of spots on paper, while skateboarding.

    Although these are two projects that can be presented independently, the entire exhibition works in sync. The vibrations emanating from Texturologie vibratoire are transposed into light, as the texture of the spots is revealed on the paper by the luminous flicker of the skateboard’s sound in the same environment.


    My research-creation project focuses on the visual and sonic potential of the ground’s materiality. The term texturology has become for me a field of experimental practices of urban ground textures, through skateboarding. It is both a concept and the title of a series of works.

    It has already been discussed by Michel De Certeau in his book L’invention du quotidien, tome 1 : Arts de faire where he describes the streets of Manhattan seen from above the World Trade Centre. Beneath him, everything seems to be swarming.

    In an article about Raphaël Zarka, art critic Elie During suggests that the “equipped body [of the skateboarder] attentive to the microproperties of the grounds and surfaces, sensitive to the slightest accidents or modulations of the pavement, has developed a kind of ‘molecular’ perception of the city.” Texturology is broken down by the prefix “texture,” that which composes a material, from the Latin textura or “weave.” Its suffix, “Logy” comes from the Latin Logia, meaning science, the study of a subject or its discourse. Texturology is therefore the study of weaving, the study of textures and the weaving of materials in the city’s surfaces.

    Texturologies (vibrations), images extracted from the video sequences of the skatecam, 2020 series.

    While texturology today is characterized as a kind of drifting through urban space for the purpose of exploring the materiality of the grounds and sensory transposition, it was already addressed by the painter Jean Dubuffet in the late 1950s, for which the following description by Georges Limbour is taken from Célébration du sol I, lieux cursifs, texturologies, topographies.

    “With texturology, Dubuffet makes topographies. […] the ground is a parchment on which texts, to be deciphered, are written. A texture, haven’t we understood it? Is a way of text, and all is language. These soils – shady, red, cheesy, fluffy, wet, pepper-colored, spicy, old furniture, old metal; urban pavements or dirt sheets – these solid and real soils, however, slip away and open up under our steps. And they are flying floor mats, blown away by the capricious winds of personal reveries, for in celebrating the ground well, one has quickly lost his footing.”

    Jean Dubuffet, Vie exemplaire du sol (Texturologie LXIII), oil on canvas, 129,5 x 161,9 cm, 1958

    Max Boutin, Texturologie Vibratoire, image extracted from a vibratory sequence of the skatecam, Montreal Olympic Stadium – south west square, 2021.


    Texturologie vibratoire, extract of the diptych presented in the installation during the Texturologies exhibition at the Agora Hydro-Québec in April 2022.


    The skateboarder is like a “reading device” of the city’s texture. His board is like an extension of his body, his tool, or even his instrument. By pushing on the ground on his board, he moves and creates a sonic pattern according to the specificities of the surface: its hardness, its porosity, its granularity, its joint lines in the case of pavements, the speed, the line (trajectory) that he will follow in space and the hardness of his wheels.

    The skateboarder generates sounds and rhythms when he moves on the textured surfaces of the urban space, which could be compared to the grooves of a record crossed by a diamond diffusing sounds. The smooth and rough surfaces of the grounds are “read” by the wheels of the skateboard unfolding on them, making the skater feel vibrations and their sounds.

    To create Texturologie vibratoire, several prototypes of skateboards equipped with a camera were made to film the subjectivity of skateboarding. The final version used in the Texturologies exhibition is composed of a Stereo board, a pair of Venture trucks, two riser pad kits (4x 0.5 inches), a set of OJ Wheels of 95A and 58mm hardness, a 3d designed and resin printed part (Tough 2000), an aluminium case for GoPro camera and a GoPro Hero 8 camera.
    The video sequences are recorded in 4k, 60 fps, hypersmooth mode (digital stabilization), flat mode, wide angle and each of them is worked in post-production on Adobe Première.

    Texturologies, research table, exhibition at the Agora Hydro Quebec, 2022. Photo : Flore Boubila

    Through my research-creation process, I now consider the skateboard as an instrument rather than as a leisure object or a tool. To the uninitiated, skateboarding is just noisy.
    For a skateboarder, noise is an integral part of the practice, an inherent condition. No noise, no skate. The vibratory sensation perceived in the body can be just as pleasant as it can be unbearable, depending on the granularity of the ground or the pavement pattern on which one moves.
    Like many musical instruments, the skateboard has a wooden body and a metal mechanism that can be adjusted to tune the instrument. There are even rubber parts to control the vibrations and make the instrument play more smoothly and feet to act as wheels. If the skateboard has any of its parameters out of tune, such as a damp board, over-oiled or defective bearings, a flat wheel or a screw that is too loose, it will sound out of tune to other skaters.

    Experimentation, skatecam with contact mic plugged in the board. Experimental prototype not retained as final instrument.

    In the case of a skatecam, the skateboard is no longer just an instrument to play with the textural score of the ground surfaces, it also becomes a recording instrument, for post-production purposes. It could be seen as an electroacoustic or electric instrument, or as an instrument with microphones, which can also take photos and videos in 4k.

    Are skateboarders experimental musicians in spite of themselves?

    Sound recording experiment in the context of a research collaboration with Brian Glenney. Photo : Brian Glenney. Skater : Levi Glenney


    Subjective views of the skatecam for the Texturologie vibratoire installation. (excerpts)

    Description of the spots from left to right and from top to bottom:
    – Peel park (Dorchester Square), Montréal, 2021.
    – Olympic Stadium (west square), Montréal, 2021.
    – Parterre du quartier des spectacles, Montréal, 2021.
    – Olympic Stadium (Vans skatepark), Montréal, 2021.


    Before turning to texturology, my research-creation work stemmed from a practical question: how to transpose the vibratory experience of skateboarding into a multimedia installation?
    Before becoming an experimental research with skateboards and cameras, the project originated in a process of transposing the bodily experience of skateboarding into my multidisciplinary artistic practice.
    Considering the skateboard as a mode of sensorial exploration of spaces, why not exploit this potential through its subjectivity?

    Skateboarding is a transposition of surfing that migrated to the empty pools of California one summer of intense drought in the United States in the 1960s. The waves froze into concrete, and the force of the water propelling the surfers had to be translated into an act of self-propulsion in space. Pushing with one’s foot on the ground while skateboarding became the basic gesture to move on the textured surfaces of the city.
    The contact between the wheels and the ground creates a friction with a richness that does not go unnoticed in the urban space, composed of countless materials with specific qualities. The meshing of this materiality becomes an experiential weaving through which the skater will generate sounds according to his trajectory, his speed and the material configuration of his instrument.

    The three kinds of textured cobblestones of Peel Park (Square Dorchester, Montreal), the resonating slabs of Place Ville-Marie, the streaks of concrete at the street corners, the asphalt and its potholes, the concrete of sidewalk slabs with often deep joints, the concrete smoothed with a helicopter; all these variations have a sonic style, and a vibratory identity specific to each spot.
    Using the analogy of the vinyl record, the skater perceives all the modulations of the ground: its roughness, its hardness, its resolution (fineness), its material arrangement, its rhythms. His passage on the ground is like the diamond in the grooves of a record and the space resonating around him like an amplifier. All these variations and vibrations are transmitted from the ground to the wheels, from the wheels to the trucks attached to the wood of the board, which then transfers this vibratory intensity to the shoes and feet riding it.

    To transpose this vibratory wealth beyond image and sound, the low frequencies of the subwoofers are not enough. In the context of the installation, the vibratory approach must be haptic to allow for a somatic experience of skateboarding. The installation becomes multi-sensory and therefore experiential.

    Haptic module for vibratory texturology. 8x8x1 feet, 1/4 inch plywood, construction wood (spruce 2×4 feet), Buttkicker tactile transducers, rubber.


    Texturologies (prints), series of performative embossings of textures, made by skateboarding on Arches paper 300 g/m2, 9 x 12 inches, ephemeral lamination on transparent acrylic panels, mounted on micro table stand.

    Description of the spots from left to right and from top to bottom:
    – Peel park (Square Dorchester), Montréal, 2021.
    – Plaf (Place Charles-de-Gaulle), Lafontaine Park, Montréal, 2021.
    – Place des Arts, Montréal, 2021.
    – Olympic Stadium, Montréal, 2021

    Process of making texturology (print), peace park. Video excerpt of the complete process (26 min.) presented in the exhibition Texturologies at the Agora Hydro-Québec in 2022.


    Photos of Texturologie vibratoire, Max Boutin, 2022.

    Texturology process video broadcasting device (prints), sony 4k monitor mounted on a wooden structure at 45°.

    Texture details of the prints, Max Boutin, 2022.


    The following pictures were taken by Flore Boubila at the opening of the exhibition on Friday April 22, 2022.

Max Boutin is a multidisciplinary artist-researcher-skater developing the concept of texturology. His artistic practice materializes through video, sculptural, photographic and sound installations. It is inspired by skateboarding, driven by a need to transpose the sensory experience of a body in vertigo: the one we give ourselves.

He holds a master’s degree from the École des Beaux-Arts de Montpellier in France (Mo.Co) and is currently pursuing a doctorate in art studies and practices at UQAM (Université du Québec À Montréal). His research is supported by the Hexagram network and the Fonds de recherche du Québec, société et culture (FRQSC). His work has recently been presented in the festivals Mutek (Montreal), Ars Electronica (Austria), Nova (Romania).

Web site :
instagram : texturologies
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