Through current technologies and the widespread use of social media, real-life public speaking has become a bit of a lost art. People used to congregate in city squares in order to share their opinions and to debate. Instead, they now use social media. With that in mind, Montreal multimedia firm Moment Factory designed a new art installation called Megaphone, located in Downtown Montreal through November 4th, that mixes both old school public speaking and modern technologies.
With Megaphone, people are invited to share their ideas and opinions into a voice amplifier. Their words may relate to any subject but thoughts regarding the current status of the city of Montreal are encouraged. The twist: using a voice-recognition system, the words spoken into the megaphone are immediately projected onto a giant wall. As speakers keep talking, their words are integrated into the video installation, which lays out the sentences over historic public speaking footage, using a modern aesthetic that could be likened to website headlines and keyword widgets. In this manner, Megaphone becomes a sort of hybrid between the written word used on social media and the face to face reactions that happen only when the sharing of ideas happens in front of a live audience.
The past year has been particularly rife with subjects for Montrealers to debate about, with massive student strikes, widespread corruption systems being unearthed, infrastructures falling apart and cultural conflicts arising. This tense social climate is what inspired Moment Factory to create the Megaphone installation.
On certain evenings, artists, experts and professional speakers are invited to speak, setting the table for specific subjects and tones (for example: poetry slammers, comedians, environmentalists, politicians and journalists are scheduled to speak). With the upcoming mayoral election happening in November, a candidates debate will also be held at the Megaphone. Thus, instead of watching them on TV, Montrealers will be able to attend a debate that will be open to all and they will be able to share their own thoughts afterwards.
Moment Factory is a local design firm that creates high-tech light and sound installations. So far they have completed over 300 projects all over the world, ranging from the set design for Madonna’s Superbowl concert to the creation of an immersive multimedia environment for the new Los Angeles Airport (LAX) terminal. They have also worked on several large-scale projections on buildings like the Sagrada Familia (Barcelona), the Houses of Parliament (Ottawa) and the Boardwalk hall (Atlantic city).
Besides Megaphone, they have also worked on several installations in the city of Montreal, some temporary, others permanent. Among the permanent ones, many are accessible to the public, like the new Mariner’s house pavillion for the Pointe-à-callière history museum, the entrance hall for the Grévin wax museum and the Vitrine culturelle building (a cultural information center and ticket booth).
With so many projects on display or in the works, Moment Factory’s unique brand of multimedia art is defining the modern image of Montreal as a bustling cultural metropolis.