From Oct. 18 to 20, MAPP MTL hosted its third annual mapping festival in collaboration with Quartier des Spectacles. The yearly festival celebrates video mapping, an art form in which images are projected onto an urban landscape. At this year’s event, three artists showcased a series of original, interactive video projections to the attendees, who were then given the opportunity to vote on their favourites. This lively celebration brought the Montreal community together and highlighted the innovative potential of technologically-driven art.
The theme of this year’s mapping competition was ‘parallel realities.’ All three of the interactive installations projected visitors’ real-time movements alongside fantastical animations onto building facades, creating imaginative and futuristic art pieces. Thien Vu Dang, executive and artistic director and co-founder of MAPP MTL, explained how, in this way, the art form obscures the boundary between reality and illusion.
“[The theme of parallel realities] comes from the identity of mapping,” Vu Dang said. “What’s interesting about mapping is this directly-intuitive augmenting of actual reality.”
The three competing artists projected their work outside of the Saint-Laurent metro station. The first, “Point de rencontre” by Ensemble Ensemble, generated a virtual clone of viewers dancing nearby. hub studio’s “MurMur” enabled visitors to engage with an endearing animated giant by speaking into a tin can telephone. Thomas Ouellet Fredericks’ surreal piece, “la légèreté de l’être,” captured visitors’ images and animated them to appear as though they were cascading down the facade of the wall.
The public was encouraged to attend the festival during the first two nights and vote for their favourite projection. On the third night, “MurMur” was crowned the winner of the public vote, while “La légèreté de l’être” was selected by a professional panel composed of Vu Dang and other Montreal-based experts on mapping technology.
One of the festival’s defining qualities was its direct engagement between the public and the art. Vu Dang emphasized that the festival’s success was dependent upon the interaction with the audience, and that enlivened the art.
“The public plays an important role in the creation,” Vu Dang said. “Without the public, the creation doesn’t exist. So, the creation becomes alive with the audience.”
In the weeks leading up to the final contest, MAPP MTL hosted a variety of other interactive events to engage the public, including “Map Your Neighbourhood,” a creative workshop which taught adults and children how to animate their own drawings, orchestrated by Montreal artist VJ Suave. Suave equipped his bicycle with a projector and invited participants to follow him throughout Rosemont, the Plateau, and Quartier des Spectacles to tour the festival grounds. The bike projected the drawings, which came to life on their neighbourhood’s walls and streets.
The final showcase evening was a celebratory event, designed to be an experience unlike anything attendees had seen before. The projections captivated festival-goers and inspired viewers to interact with the exhibition. Vu Dang compared the artwork showcased at the festival to other major artistic breakthroughs in history.
“This art form reminds me a bit of the beginning of cinema,” Vu Dang said. “For people who saw [the first films ever], it was like magic. [MAPP MTL has taken this a step further], and, now, the image is transforming the space around people.”
MAPP MTL showcased the art of mapping, engaged the Montreal community, and pushed the boundaries of technologically-projected art. The festival also embodied Montreal’s unique artistic culture and brought local artists together with art enthusiasts of all ages into a shared space.
“A very personal connection with the city, that’s what that project created,” Vu Dang said.