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Place des Alts: ‘A very alternative interactive audio guide experience’

This fall, a Concordia collective headlines the KM3 public art event for Montreal’s 375th anniversary
August 28, 2017
By J. Latimer


Visitors to Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles this fall will encounter an interactive piece of public art featuring a red cube, an 11-foot fluffy turquoise tentacle and a healthy dose of half-truths.

“We’re playing with the idea of fake news, alternative histories and the tension between history and the imagination” explains Lynn Hughes, Concordia University Research Chair in Interaction Design and Games Innovation, and one of the people behind the project.

The piece, called Place des Alts, was created by the Montreal based collective Les Alts led by Hughes, The project is one of 20 original pieces commissioned for KM3 (pronounced “kilometre cubed”), a large-scale interactive experience taking place at the Quartier des spectacles from August 30 to October 15 to celebrate Montreal’s 375th anniversary.

“The curators asked us to create a playful, participatory piece that relates to the location,” says Hughes. “They didn’t want just a sculpture.”

Hughes describes Place des Alts as an audio puzzle experience. Participants first encounter the one-metre-squared cube and its fluffy companion. On the cube are instructions to visit a website using one’s mobile phone.

This begins a very alternative audio-guided tour which leads participants around the Place des Festivals through a series of visual puzzles.

The puzzles are based on altered photos of the area. Correctly identifying the changes triggers a portion of the story in which dueling narrators compete to make us believe their versions of history.

In fact, one of the narrators only tells the truth and the other invents everything, but both versions are equally imaginative and challenging. Participants experience the Place des Festivals physically in new ways and also question their relation to and knowledge of local history.

Concordians at KM3

Les Alts is comprised of Hughes and PhD students Will Robinson, Eileen Holowka and Tony Higuchi, along with multimedia artist and filmmaker Gina Hara (MFA 12). Hara is creative director at TAG, the Technoculture, Art and Games research centre, and the graduate students are all associated with TAG, which was cofounded by Hughes and Bart Simon.

Place des Alts is not the only Concordia connection at KM3. The event was curated by Melissa Mongiat and Mouna Andraos, co-founders of the design studio Daily tous les jours. Andraos is a part-time faculty member with Concordia’s Department of Design and Computation Arts.

KM3 will also feature other Concordia alumni, including former MFA in Studio Arts student Andréanne Abbondanza-Bergeron, as well as Jonathan Villeneuve (BFA 09), Alexandre Castonguay (MFA 04), Chloë Lum (BFA 15) and Yannick Desranleau (MFA 16), and Pavitra Wickramasinghe (MFA 10).

Place des Alts
will be installed at the Place des Festivals area of the Quartier des spectacles from August 30 to October 15, 2017. Bring your mobile device for the full experience. Admission is free.


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