Each year, the International Symposium on Electronic Art brings together thousands of people from dozens of countries. It’s an unmissable event for digital art enthusiasts and creators. This year it takes place in Barcelona. And the key event of this 27And edition will be the projection of one of the paintings of City of memory, by artists Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, produced by H2Emotion. In short, Montreal’s talent and experience will be showcased every evening, June 14-16, in this fabulous city.
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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 onto the facade of the Sant Pau de la Recinte Modernista hospital, a magnificent building from the early 20th century.And 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 (rehearsals were done over the weekend), I wanted to meet Martin Laviolette, the man who is in the shadow of City of memory. 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 North Montreal, he was one of the first street workers to join the Rue Action Prévention Jeunesse organization. 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 creator. When someone entrusts me with something, I like to get it done.
Martin Laviolette, producer of City of memory
While employed by the city of Montreal as a social development consultant in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville district, he was told of a project for a “history festival”. We are in 2006. he takes the ball to the jump.
“I thought for a long time about what it could have become and this phrase came to mind: ‘A historical event in a contemporary corpus.’ It was blurry, but I had a direction. ”
Armed with this phrase, 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 ignite the spark and then see things explode. My pleasure is to make artists dream. ”
Technological art that has 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. H2Emotion ONLUS is born. In 2016, a year before 375And Montreal anniversary, 19 paintings are unveiled in Old Montreal. Today there are 28.
To date, a good 28 million dollars have been invested in this project, which is attracting the interest of several cities around the world. “Only 12 to 18 percent of the money we receive comes from grants,” says Martin Laviolette. We cannot say that we are consumers of public money. ”
Martin Laviolette juggles several projects. He recently presented an interactive floor projection in the Pointe-aux-Trembles neighborhood. This painting, presented at Place du Village-de-la-Pointe-aux-Trembles, is the first to be presented at the eastern end of Montreal.
Five-table courses will soon be created in other Quebec cities. Details will be revealed shortly. Also, a fascinating augmented reality project called ON SITEwork by Michel Lemieux, it will be offered to the public and tourists from August.
Having experienced it before 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 under development. It occupies a space of 3,500 square feet in the Cinéma du Quartier latin building. There will be eight themed rooms focusing on Montreal and combining artificial intelligence, metaverse and projections.
“I admit, I’m ambitious, says Martin Laviolette. I am also tenacious. But in all of this I leave a lot of room for fun. For me it is essential. ”
I left Martin Laviolette telling me that we have many talented creators in Quebec, but that we need more “designers” like him. Artists need them. And also in the United States.