Summer is the season of choice for outdoor festivals, for obvious reasons. Drawing crowds to celebrate winter alfresco seems like a tougher sell, but if any city can figure it out, it’s Montreal. The Montréal en Lumière festival has been a massive success for the Canadian hub for 14 years now—a late-February fete of food and cultural goings-on that brings a staggering 900,000 folks to bask in the brisk, snow-covered beauty of the Quebecois metropolis.
This year, the revelry included Lift, an interactive installation by Daniel Iregui of local studio Iregular. Spectra, the event’s producer, had seen a large-scale project Iregui pulled off for the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma back in 2011, and since a large number of visitors are tourists, they gave him a simple directive: Somehow, some way, represent the city. "The how, the look, and the whole experience was entirely up to us," Iregui tells Co.Design.
Iregui was clear on his concept from the outset of the three-month development process: A giant dome would act as a volumetric screen; graphics would appear and shape shift, when laser sensors detected the presence and movement of oversize balls being thrown around adjacent to the installation. Multimedia specialist Moment Factory conceived the relevant technology to make it work almost four years ago, and this is the third time since that Iregui has put it to creative use. In terms of images, five icons were selected and given a dynamic linear treatment. Materials for the crowd’s throwing balls, however, provided a bit of a logistical challenge. "Few can withstand a Montréal winter," he says. After a few misfires, latex orbs proved their mettle against the elements.
Apart from the technical aspects, the most important part for Iregui was to give power to the people. "Involving the public is very interesting because it makes the art piece alive and different every time. I like to design visual systems that have almost infinite configurations, and since I do not know how they will play with it, it makes each second of visual a unique one."
Anyone and everyone was welcome to walk up, grab a ball, and start tossing. "There were no instructions on-site, so you sort of had to know what to do," he says. "But it was very intuitive as soon as the first person went for it. I was actually surprised how much fun people had with just the balls; interacting with the projections was important but there were a lot of people just playing around."
(h/t The Creators Project)