Bigger. Brighter. More ridiculously huge. You know what you want, projectionists. And Quebec is the kind of place that will pull it off. Big budget for an absurdly-large but still very arty project? They’ll make it happen.
So, when it came time for the 400th anniversary of Quebec, Quebec City did indeed think big, projecting the work of artist/director Robert Lepage onto nearly 2000 feet of grain silos (that’s 600 meters for those of you in the civilized world). It’s the biggest architectural projection ever created.
But instead of being bombastic, it seems completely at home with its surroundings. It’s not video blown up to the monumental. It seems instead like video that’s proportional to the scale of the landscape, a natural evolution. And instead of overly patriotic cheese, the results are elegant and abstracted – genuine video art. It’s spectacle, for sure – but that’s part of the appeal. Instead of being cold or detached as some public video art has been, it’s personable.
In fact, reading the statement for the project, once you get over the size what this really suggests is the first major breakthrough in locative art:
Its geographic location, urban culture and history make Québec one of the world’s most beautiful and highly photogenic cities. Québec City has been mapped, drawn, engraved, painted, photographed and filmed, and we have invented a mill that transforms, animates, dramatizes and pays tribute to these 400 years of images. The images that the public will see are almost all drawn from archives dating back to the time when Samuel de Champlain drew Québec.
Lepage’s background, uniquely, crosses disciplines. He’s the rare artist who has been notable in three fields: as an actor, as a playwright, and as a film director. Perhaps it’s the sense of traditional theater that, paradoxically, allowed him to avoid overt narrative and let the images themselves tell the story.
The technical side of this is no less impressive. Twenty-seven 20,000-lumen projectors are combined with 238 spotlights and 329 speakers, with a radio-broadcast soundtrack by René Lussier. If you’re around Quebec City, you can go see the results for free, through August 24.
Via Ironic Sans: Canada’s 1,968 foot wide movie