‘Light Bearers’
An original interactive installation in Montreal Created by Mathieu Le Sourd (Maotik) and Etienne Paquette

When nature comes to life in an industrial environment

On a summer evening, the air is filled with the flash of fireflies calling to one another. Intrigued by their dialogue, Mathieu Le Sourd and Etienne Paquette created a poetic representation of their conversation. Their immersive environment is a multimedia interpretation of a natural ecosystem that combines thousands of original crafted objects with state-of-the-art technology such as lasers and leap motion, as well as an original soundtrack.

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Visitors are invited to participate in the experience by creating their own audiovisual show. Imitating the frail beauty of fireflies, they themselves become light bearers.

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Challenge and approach

The biggest challenge was to build an immersive environment in order to reconstruct fireflies’ natural ecosystem, such as a forest. The artists chose a DIY approach: they used standard industrial materials such as light bulbs and metal rods to create about 2,500 reflective plants. Each and every one of them was handcrafted and set to evoke an organic design. The entrance is a field of bulbs filled with tonic water that shine in the dark with the help of black light. Visitors then come to the main field and manipulate light beams with IR sensors, causing the sound and visual effects, recreating the magic of firefly clouds all around them. Two visitors can interact at the same time, by placing their hands on top of the wooden interactive station. Each finger becomes a light beam – a firefly.
The result is a sculptural interactive and generative environment, a mix of organic design, high tech and craft.

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Technical details

Le Sourd and Paquette used normal transparent light bulbs filled with tonic water for the “Bioluminescent” pathway, and special reflector bulbs for the main field, to maximize the impact of the lasers. Three lasers were used to cover the whole surface, blended together and connected to a network router. Le Sourd built a tool with Touch Designer to control each beam with a leap motion. The interactive stations were created with two large pieces of a tree trunk. Paquette took them out of the woods, hollowed them out and arranged them to integrate computers and leap motions.

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Light Bearers is open to the public until November 1, 2015 at Montreal Insectarium – Espace pour la vie/Space for Life.

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CREDITS

Design and Production Maotik (aka Mathieu Le Sourd) & Etienne Paquette
Artistic Direction Mathieu Le Sourd
Environmental Design Iréna Lesiv
Musical Composition and Sound Design Jean-François Pedno
Technical Design and Production XYZ Cultural Technology