Cité Mémoire: A Projection of Montréalhttps://www.chutegerdeman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/CiteMontreal.jpg1440428Mary Lynn WaiteMary Lynn Waitehttps://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/7e8c1bf8348b306c892852f5fffacd6d?s=96&d=mm&r=g
Normally, you will not hear me recommending to anyone that they should walk down a dark, questionable alley at 11 o’clock at night in an unfamiliar city. There are, however, a few exceptions where walking down that unexpected path is actually pretty awesome.
Cité Memoire, or Memory City for English-speaking types, is a digital installation integrated into the neighborhood of Old Montreal, creating an immersive experience that beautifully blends old and new. Sponsored by the non-profit organization Montréal En Histoires, the installation celebrates Montréal’s evolution through representative characters and stories. These scenes (called “tableaux”) are projected throughout the city—on buildings, cobblestone streets, even trees—mesmorizing passersby. The masterminds behind the effort are multimedia artists Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, along with playwright Michel Marc Bouchard, who wrote the script for each tableau. There are 19 tableaux total, with 4 more slated for 2017. “For us, these people who dreamed the city are still embedded in the city. … Known and unknown, their souls are still in the walls. They come out from the walls and they talk to us. That was the first premise. And we also wanted people to go elsewhere in Old Montreal apart from Place Jacques-Cartier and the Old Port, and to discover architecture they might not know.”
While wandering the city and discovering the theatrical, dreamlike tableaux incites excitement and curiosity, you’re not really sure what to make of it. What makes this installation truly an immersive experience is the accompanying free smartphone app. The app guides you on a path (should you want a directed journey), provides context and a deeper explanation of the story being shown, which includes audio. It uses augmented reality (yes, Pokemon Go-style) in key moments to transport you from your modern day setting to the historical version of yesterday.
My personal experience just so happens to be the aforementioned dark alley. As my friend and I came upon the alley, we spotted an aurora borealis-themed projection that seemed to interact with our movement. We weren’t the only ones intrigued—there was a couple at the other end hopping through the projection just like we were and eventually, even more passersby wanting to get in on the action. The video transitioned into a creek, then full gushing water. The experience had us feeling like kids again, waiting to see what would come next in the story and running around the scene, testing if it was following us (the latter content, sadly, did not).
From the aesthetic direction to the integration of personal technology in a physical space, Cité Memoire is well executed. It’s impressive, inspiring, and a highly-recommended must-see in the city!
Mary Lynn has mad skills developing brands through visual communications. Leading a team of designers with style and enthusiasm that shines through on our most successful projects. Trend spotter and pop-culture enthusiast, Mary Lynn keeps our creative studio alive. You can read more posts from Mary Lynn here >