Every year, the International Symposium on Electronic Art brings together thousands of people from dozens of countries. It is an unmissable event for digital art enthusiasts and creators. This year it takes place in Barcelona. And the key event of this 27e edition will be the projection of one of the paintings of Memory City, by artists Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, produced by H2Emotion. In short, Montreal’s talent and expertise will be showcased every evening, from June 14 to 16, in this fabulous city.
Posted at 7:15 a.m.
The painting chosen is the one that is normally projected on the huge wall of the Montreal courthouse. Lasting 35 minutes, it evokes the Amerindian presence, the French regime, the British Conquest to conclude with contemporary Montreal.
In Barcelona, it will be projected on the facade of the Sant Pau de la Recinte Modernista hospital, a magnificent building from the beginning of the 20th century.e century listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and located not far from the Sagrada Família. It is one of the most visited places in the capital of Catalonia.
Before he flew to Spain with Michel Lemieux (tests were done over the weekend), I wanted to meet Martin Laviolette, the man who is in the shadow of Memory City. With its 200 projectors, this local project is the longest video projection course in the world.
Coming from a community background, Martin Laviolette is a pure Montrealer. Originally from Montreal North, he was one of the first street workers to join the organization Rue Action Prévention Jeunesse. This hyperactive (he was already a junior hockey player in Europe) then founded, in 1997, the FestiBlues, of which he held the reins for 19 years.
I consider myself a project maker. When someone entrusts me with something, I like to see it through.
Martin Laviolette, producer of Memory City
While employed by the City of Montreal as a social development advisor in the borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville, he was told about a project for a “festival on history”. We are in 2006. He takes the ball at the leap.
“I thought long and hard about what it might become and I came up with this phrase: ‘A historical event in a contemporary corpus.’ It was blurry, but I had a direction. »
Armed with this sentence, he invites Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon to the Steak Frites on rue Saint-Denis one evening. “During the meal, someone said: ‘The walls speak to us’, recalls Martin Laviolette. There was a click. Me, I like to trigger the spark and then see things explode. My pleasure is to let artists dream. »
Technological art having few secrets for Lemieux and Pilon, the project takes the form of lyrical paintings projected on blind walls or on the floor that tell parts of our history.
Once the concept was established, playwright Michel Marc Bouchard was recruited. The team gets to work. The NPO H2Emotion is created. In 2016, a year before the 375e anniversary of Montreal, 19 paintings are unveiled in Old Montreal. Today, there are 28.
No less than 28 million dollars have been injected to date into this project, which is attracting the interest of several cities around the world. “Only 12 to 18% of the money we receive comes from grants,” says Martin Laviolette. We cannot say that we are guzzlers of public money. »
Martin Laviolette juggles several projects. He recently unveiled an interactive floor projection in the borough of Pointe-aux-Trembles. This painting, presented at Place du Village-de-la-Pointe-aux-Trembles, is the first to be presented in the east end of Montreal.
Courses of five tables will soon be created in other cities in Quebec. Details will be revealed shortly. In addition, a fascinating augmented reality project called INSITUa work by Michel Lemieux, will be offered to the public and tourists starting in August.
Having experienced it first with its creator, I can tell you that the result is absolutely stunning.
And then there is this project called Espace Saint-Denis which is in development. It will occupy a space of 3,500 square feet in the building of the Cinéma du Quartier latin. There will be eight thematic rooms focusing on Montreal and which will combine artificial intelligence, the metaverse and projections.
“I admit, I am ambitious, says Martin Laviolette. I am also tenacious. But in all of this, I leave a lot of room for fun. It is fundamental for me. »
I left Martin Laviolette telling myself that we have a lot of talented creators in Quebec, but that we need more “project makers” like him. Artists need them. And U.S. too.