Travel Blog

6 Dec

Luminothérapie: A retro-futuristic installation at Place des Festivals

A avant-garde outdoor experience is coming back to Montréal’s Place des Festivals. For the seventh year running, the Quartier des spectacles (Entertainment District) will be transformed into a huge set for Luminothérapie, a celebration of sound and light that runs from December 8, 2016 to January 29, 2017.


This year, the main attraction is LOOP, a captivating piece by Ekumen, the Montréal-based sound and media arts production agency. It was designed by Olivier Girouard, Jonathan Villeneuve and Ottoblix, in collaboration with Générique Design, Jérôme Roy and Thomas Ouellet Fredericks. This fairy tale-inspired installation features 13 giant zoetropes (cylinders) that promise to inspire awe both day and night.

“We used a zeotrope concept—like a giant wheel—to encourage interactions between humans, unusual mechanical components and the imaginary world,” said Olivier Girourad, who works as a composer, sound artist and art director at Ekumen. “Zeotropes were the precursor to cinema,” explains Jonathan Villeneuve, the designer behind LOOP. Olivier adds that zoetropes even predate animated films. It would seem that this optical toy was invented in 1834 by two people simultaneously: England’s William George Horner and Austria’s Simon Ritter von Stampfer. Zoetropes create the illusion of movement through persistence of vision.

LOOP is a cross between a music box, a zoetrope and a railway handcar. The retro-futuristic machine, more than two metres in diameter, creates animated fairy-tale loops. The public can interact with the installation by turning the colourful lighted cylinders to set the images into motion. Adding to the effect, a music box chimes from the middle of each cylinder.

“The connection between fairy tales and childhood is made both in the animation triggered by turning on the zoetrope, and in the physical components of the work, particularly the music box that plays the soundtrack,” said Rami Bebawi, an architect at Kanva Architecture and the chair of the Luminothérapie 2016 jury.

Each zoetrope features presents a story that lasts just a few seconds. A frog becomes a prince. A wolf blows down the three little pigs’ house. Terrifying eyes appear in the dark. It’s just enough to awaken the imagination and stir childhood memories.

In Olivier’s words, Luminothérapie is “a playful space that encourages the public to set their imaginations free.” Don’t miss the inauguration of this winter wonderland on December 7. The creators will be in attendance, along with local food trucks to quell hungry tummies. Of course, there will also be videos projected onto the nearby buildings to support the main installation’s theme. It all comes together to create a stunning concept on the exterior walls of UQAM’s Président-Kennedy Pavillion and Espace danse in the Wilder Building.

Up next:ILLUMINART lights up Montréal’s 375th anniversary


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