Short of Mount Royal itself, as major features of Montréal’s landscape go, they don’t get much more iconic than the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. And in honour of the city’s 375th birthday this year, and Canada’s 150th anniversary, Montréal multimedia magic makers Moment Factory are making the iron giant even more spectacular by converting it into a massive, illuminated interactive art piece titled Living Connections.
The Jacques-Cartier Bridge links the island of Montréal to the city’s South Shore over the St. Lawrence River, and is one of the primary gateways to the United States. Approximately 36 million vehicles cross the winding, steel truss cantilever bridge each year, making the Jacques-Cartier the third busiest bridge in Canada. So as actual living connections go, they don’t get much more lively than that. It makes for an ideal canvas for Moment Factory’s feat of creative engineering, and what will become the signature visual element of the city’s year-long celebrations.
Commencing May 17, 2017 (the date of Montréal’s anniversary), the Jacques-Cartier Bridge will be bathed in pulsing, interactive lighting activated in real time. The bridge’s illumination will change colour and intensity depending on the season of the year and the spirit of the city (e.g., the light patterns might shine more brightly after a Montreal Canadiens victory) on this flagship project conceived and executed by Moment Factory.
How does it do that? Living Connections is essentially an enormous, ever-evolving data-responsive light installation, engineered “to reflect the digital pulse of the city.” Data collected in real time will be “harvested” and converted instantaneously into dynamic lighting effects that Moment Factory created with the assistance of six Montréal multimedia and lighting studios. Inspired by the matrix design of the bridge, the lighting effects will be focused on four areas of the bridge’s superstructure: the turrets, piers, interior core and exterior skin. Over 2,800 lights – a combination of projectors and tube lighting – will provide the illumination. The lighting will be soft and carefully directed in order to minimize light loss and avoid washing out starlight.
More than 200 people – everyone from creatives to engineers, lighting designers to programmers, electricians to rope technicians – have contributed to the realization of this grand-scale showcase of homegrown talent, breathing new life into an 87-year-old symbol of the city. And though Montréal’s 375th birthday party will be fleeting, Living Connections will not: the installation will be reflecting the temperature and tone of the town for the next ten years at least.