In Patrice’s view, museums should constantly look for ways to provide singular experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. “We spend a lot of time in front of small rectangular screens,” says the designer. “We need to make better use of digital technology to deliver larger-than-life experiences.”
When the Montreal Biosphere launched a call for bids for a new tech-driven show, creative agency Idées au cube (ID3) responded without delay… and got the mandate.
“Using a high-tech installation as a way of bringing people back to nature seemed like a wonderful paradox and an artistic challenge,” recalls Patrice Leduc, a producer with Idées au Cube, who designed and drove the project.
In Patrice’s view, museums should constantly look for ways to provide singular experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. “We spend a lot of time in front of small rectangular screens,” says the designer.
“We need to make better use of digital technology to deliver larger-than-life experiences.”
For the Biosphere’s project, titled Façonner l’avenir (Shaping the future), Patrice got rid of all individual devices: no phones, tablets or interactive screens. “We wanted people to experience the installation the way they would a nature trail,” he says by way of explanation. “We wanted the experience to be very intuitive. So we created an installation that got people moving around just as they would in a natural environment, where they could look at whatever caught their attention.”
Visitors to the installation cannot see everything at once. Thanks to 22 projectors, a broad variety of content is displayed simultaneously on a central column, on the floor, and on a panoramic screen, measuring 44 metres in circumference and overlooking the installation space. A battery of loudspeakers, fans, and nozzles generates ambient sound and mood, including rain and snowfall. “We made major changes to the room where the installation is housed,” acknowledges Patrice, while also acknowledging the Biosphere’s helpful collaboration on the project.
The installation is a celebration of nature in which science and poetry rub shoulders. The former is represented by video interviews of scientists discussing biomimicry (which uses nature as an inspiration for technology innovations); the latter by testimonials from ordinary citizens. “People shared memories of their own experiences with nature,” relates Patrice. “We selected testimonials that were both widely representative and that provided a good fit with the scientists’ comments.”
The installation was also designed to inspire hope: “We wanted to get away from the downbeat tone that is generally used to discuss climate change.”
Patrice readily admits that he has a passionate interest in large-scale group experiences, which he has pursued by creating immersive and multisensory shows for museums and other heritage sites.
The sight of attentive visitors who enjoy the 25-minute show from beginning to end and applaud at the end makes Patrice very pleased with the project.
Façonner l’Avenir (Shaping the future) can be experienced at the Biosphere until 2020.