January 17, 2013
by Canadian Architect
The seasons aren’t what they used to be, the earth’s climate has gone off course. Climate change is transforming how we relate to our world, how we live, even how we experience the city.
What will the winter of 2013 be like? Snowy, cloudy, rainy? No one can predict, but one thing is certain: an Arctic wind has been blowing through downtown Montreal since ATOMIC3 (www.atomic3.ca) and Appareil Architecture (www.appareilarchitecture.com) introduced Iceberg, an interactive, architectural, light and sound installation that brings winter right into the heart of the city.
From north to south, from the Place des Festivals to the Place des Arts esplanade, the installation follows the journey of an iceberg, from its birth in Arctic waters to its melting off the southern coast. It features four “skeletons” representing the Iceberg at four different stages in its life. Four life stages: four different shapes and sizes, four illuminated spaces, and above all, four distinct soundscapes.
Centuries old and shaped by time and the elements, icebergs make distinctive sounds. As water enters their cracks and crevasses, they resonate like giant pipe organs, the tones modulating and evolving as these monuments of ice slowly melt.
Inspired by that massive instrument, Iceberg is a series of illuminated metal arches that produce distinctive sounds. The arches form a tunnel inviting visitors to enter, listen, and play this giant organ, where notes and light travel up and down musical passageways.
As visitors explore the arches, motion sensors inside detect their movements, triggering changes to the lighting and sounds and bringing the iceberg to life. Whether alone or in a group, walking underneath an arch or standing in front of one, each visitor “warms up” the iceberg, transforming its northern essence into a symphony for both the ears and the eyes.
The size and shape of the structures call to mind a floating glacier, as it moves through the water and melts. Similarly, the different soundscapes provide their own accompaniment to the iceberg’s gradual drift southward. In the north, visitors’ movements trigger sounds from nature, but as they move through the installation, the sounds become richer and more harmonious. As the iceberg glides south, nearer to inhabited coastlines, music emerges brought on by human activity.
The iceberg’s journey ends at the Place des Arts esplanade, where chunks of ice floating at the foot of a cliff are all that remain. Here, only children can enter the tiny tunnels, transforming them into music boxes. The children, in their innocent play, warm up these ice monsters, barometers warning of global climate changes to come.
Iceberg is a winner of 2012 Luminothérapie competition, an event organized by Montreal’s Quartier des Spectacles Partnership featuring interactive light installations encouraging visitors to embrace winter. It runs until February 4, 2013; for more information, please visit www.quartierdesspectacles.com/lumino/en.
For more than a century, Quartier des Spectacles has been Montreal’s cultural heart. Today, it is also a hub of economic, urban and cultural development, with many assets that are helping establish Montreal as a leading cultural metropolis. A vibrant creative zone, open to artistic diversity and cultural crosspollination, the Quartier has something for everyone, from digital-arts aficionados to fans of world music. Every month of the year and every hour of the day, Montrealers and visitors converge on its 80 venues, 40 festivals and seven squares and public spaces. Part of a unique urban fabric, the boldly illuminated Quartier des Spectacles is an essential destination for anyone looking for a thrilling cultural experience. For more information, please visit www.quartierdesspectacles.com.
part of the ICEBERG installation in montreal