Every snow-bound city should have a festival like Luminothérapie, where art and design come together to create a panacea for the winter blues. Now in its fifth year, Luminothérapie is Montreal’s answer to embracing frigid winter temperatures by turning the popular Quartier des Spectacles’ Place des Festivals into a giant temporary installation of light, sound and interactive games.
Last year, a collaborative team led by local firm Kanva installed some 28,500 flexible metal stems that took on the appearance of a frozen wheat field through which visitors could wander. The flexible stems bent with the wind and acted as light reflectors, dramatically scattering light throughout the square.
This year, Toronto architecture firm RAW Design won the open competition (and $225,000) with Prismatica, its plan to install a forest of two-metre-tall structures made of polycarbonate panels coated with dichroic film, a material that gives the transparent surface the look of gasoline floating on water. Each of the 50 three-sided prisms sits on a concrete base and is embedded with floodlights that will refract light to create kaleidoscopic patterns across the snow and ice.
The structures, fabricated in Montreal by Atomic 3, are also interactive. They can be spun to let the iridescent patterns dance across surfaces, which sets in motion a hammer and piston chime, effectively turning Prismatica – and the square – into one giant musical instrument.
“We really want people to play around and in the process forget about the cold,” says Pierre-Alexandre Le Lay of RAW.
In addition, Montreal visual design studio Lüz is creating an equally ambitious digital installation that employs eight videos projected onto the sides of buildings surrounding the plaza. The imagery, inspired by the sights, sounds and games of old carnival classics, is also interactive – with operable shooting galleries and whack-a-mole games.
Luminothérapie runs from December 10 until February 1, 2015.