At the end of his career, Antoni Gaudí was frequently pressured to complete his still-unfinished cathedral, the Sagrada Familia. His perpetual answer? “Don’t worry, my client isn’t in a hurry.” And today, 120 years later, the Sagrada Familia still sits unfinished.
On Saturday though, thanks to some projection-mapped magic, Gaudí’s masterpiece was briefly complete–and then some. Moment Factory, the Montreal-based new media studio responsible for Madonna’s stage show, premiered a 15-minute light show that turned the Sagrada’s lush, intricate Nativity facade into a moving spectacle. “Our inspiration was to realize Antonio Gaudí’s dream,” write the crew on their blog. “The architect wished for the façade to be full of colors.”
Salvador Dalí famously called Gaudí’s style “superbly creative bad taste,” a description Moment Factory’s designers obviously took to heart. Ode à la Vie is a blindingly surreal retelling of “the birth of the universe,” projection mapped onto the Sagrada’s towering spires using 16 high-powered projectors. The show features waterfalls cascading down the facade, candy-colored fog, and a crescendo that highlights the facade’s central figure–the baby Jesus–emerging from billowing chartreuse clouds. A bombastic soundtrack by Anthony Rozankovic and Misteur Valaire accompanies, and at the climax, thousands of glittering LED butterflies cascaded onto the 32,000 people gathered in the plaza below. Basically, Gaudi would have loved it.
The whole thing seems fantastically gaudy (as it should be!). Spiritually, Gaudí was fervently Catholic. Architecturally, he was fantastically radical. His buildings reflect that duality–they’re full of technical brilliance as well as religious symbolism (the spires on the Nativity facade, for example, support massive stone “baskets” of colorful fruits). It’s easy to imagine Gaudí, had he lived today, working for Moment Factory–their brand of technical know-how and fantastical excess is actually very similar to his own.