Inside Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier travels mainly on the run, his office in his backpack, on the lookout for fascinating subjects and people. He speaks to everyone and is interested in all walks of life in this urban chronicle.
In an immersive Montreal art museum located at the Palais des Congrès, visitors and… “spies” mingle.
It’s because the creators of the exhibition in the OASIS immersion room mingle with the crowd and observe their reactions!
“Regularly, I come to sit in the room and I become moved when I see people embarking,” confides Denys Lavigne, the director and co-founder of this new Montreal artistic institution.
Its immediate success, thanks to 150,000 visitors in its inaugural year, allowed it to survive the pandemic years.
Mr. Lavigne had the idea for OASIS immersion when he visited, somewhat by chance, in 2018, what was then an old disused bus station that formed a kind of large unused hole.
The Palais des Congrès used this “vacuum” essentially as a giant storage space while waiting to figure out what to do with it.
“I proposed my project, it was accepted, and here we are, we have the largest multimedia room permanently dedicated to immersive art in Canada,” says Mr. Lavigne.
“We built the three immersive rooms and we equipped them from A to Z from scratch. »
The amount of equipment necessary for the operation of this immersive museum makes you dizzy.
“You can’t see it, but there are 130 discrete speakers and 105 laser projectors, hundreds of thousands of feet of cable, about 40 computer servers, a quarter of a billion pixels and millions of gigabytes of data permanently conveyed in the three rooms”, sums up Darius Rabby, the technical director.
Mr. Rabby tirelessly hunts down possible bugs that could interfere with the powerful machines at work behind the visual “magic”.
The spectator exclaims in surprise when he realizes, at a certain moment, that his steps in the room trigger aquatic movements around his feet, as if he were walking on water.
“I call it the Jesus moment,” laughs Ruby-Maude Rioux, the senior multimedia designer who designed the interactive floor.
The feet of the walking spectator sometimes give brushstrokes, create distorting vibrations that spread like waves, dig into the paint or form small walking lamps.
The interactive floor captivates children and relates to what’s on the walls.
“The purpose of the interactive floor is to deepen the experience of what is projected, it is to enrich it, and not to divert attention”, says the designer.
“When there is a shower of almond petals or other startling effects, even the children exclaim, and it was a nice surprise at first to find out that we were reaching 7 to 77 years old,” says Mr. Lavigne.
OASIS immersion will present new exhibitions every six months.
Next Friday, the electronic music festival MUTEK will present a show there.
Musical performances, interactive film tributes, haunted houses, the artistic possibilities of such a place seem virtually endless.