Wind Instrument, an interactive installation by Étienne Paquette, co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), the Quartier des spectacles Partnership and LA SERRE – arts vivants, will be on display from August 16 to October 8 in front of Saint-Laurent Metro station in downtown Montreal. This large-scale work (featuring six steel tubes with a maximum height of 28 feet) creates music by reacting to variations in ambient sound, while incorporating the contributions of passersby as well. The installation invites residents and visitors to lend an ear and feed into the sonic landscape that surrounds us. Wind Instrument is part of POSSIBLES, a high-profile creative project from LA SERRE – arts vivants that seeks to enrich our experience and vision of art and civic engagement in the city.
The city speaks to us constantly through the many sounds it makes, but how attentive are we to this background noise? Wind Instrument began with a reflection on the absurdity of seeking silence in spaces where noise is ubiquitous. But if we can’t silence our environment, we can at least play with its sounds. Wind Instrument analyzes the urban soundscape to create music through five vertical steel ventilation tubes, resembling fanciful organ pipes (the sixth tube is there to capture sounds). This structure uses harmonic frequencies and sound levels to produce soothing, captivating music in real time that’s accompanied by lighting effects. The installation will also be keeping a record of the different sound levels it picks up over the course of its life.
Passersby will find themselves captivated by the installation’s alluring whispers and murmurs, and perhaps even slightly unsettled by its massive size. This interactive work also invites those same passersby to help create music out of the city’s sounds, by speaking, singing, or simply making a noise into the pipes, at the feet of the structure. In this way, the installation allows users to play with a chord progression, offering a lyrical experience that raises questions about how we perceive the different noises that dominate our environment.
“The Quartier des spectacles Partnership would like to thank Étienne Paquette for his artistic contribution to the conversation about the city and its sounds. We’re proud to see creators find inspiration in public spaces like those in the Quartier to create original works that lead to reflection and dialogue among residents. We’re equally thrilled to be co-production partners for this bold installation with the National Film Board of Canada and LA SERRE – arts vivants. Both have demonstrated time and again that they’re partners of choice when it comes to designing new forms of storytelling that actively involve members of the public.” – Pascale Daigle, Director of Programming,Quartier des spectacles Partnership
“Humans are the noisiest animals on Earth. Wherever there are people, there’s noise. So the issue is not so much to seek silence but rather to know what we want to hear and have others hear. With Wind Instrument, I use urban sounds as an engine that drives the production of soothing music, to draw attention to the soundscape that constantly surrounds us and the possibilities that exist to creatively engage with it.”– Étienne Paquette, Creator of Wind Instrument