The 21 Swings public art installation, outside at the Quartier des Spectacles in the heart of downtown, is the kind of instrument anyone can play – and everyone is, no matter what their musical ability, age or whether they find themselves next to friends or strangers on the swings…
The long row of seven sets of colourful swings, like a mini playground along President-Kennedy Avenue between St-Urbain and Jeanne-Mance in the Quartier des Spectacles, is set up for collective music making until the end of May. Each swing hits its own notes, some sounding like a piano, some like a guitar or harp.
In French, the interactive installation’s title, 21 Balançoires, hints at part of its concept: to bring people together in public space in a kind of balance that reflects the fast-paced urban environment while showing how community-oriented Montreal really can be. That is, the more people work and play together, the more music can be made.
21 Swings came to Montreal’s streets last year and is even bigger this year and the music different with each group of people who happen to swing by. Created by Montreal artists Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat and design group Daily Tous Les Jours, the installation is a project that blends artistic talents and urban design. Both Andraos and Mongiat have long been involved with interactive public art and design projects in Montreal and around the world, often looking to inspire people who might not think of themselves as musicians, performers or artists – with projects like 21 Swings, like magic, everyone becomes a creative force. Fittingly, the location of the swings is called Promenade des Artistes.
As people swing, melodies and harmonies are made along with others swinging next to them and nearby – sensors track the height, the speed and the position of the swings, triggering notes that match the swingers movements. Add to that an LED lighting system on the swing’s seat bottoms, and it’s a full-on collaborative, cooperative music show like no other, with participants listening to the music, slowing down and speeding up to adjust their part in it, and having a really good time just playing around.
21 Balançoires (21 Swings), until June 2, 2013
Photos by Susan Moss