Our seasons aren’t what they used to be, and the earth’s climate is mixed up. In Montreal, a city known for blistering cold and abundant snow, recent winters have been marked by seesawing temperatures, increased rainfall, and late-arriving snow.
Iceberg is a reaction to this shift in the earth’s climate. It is an interactive and architectural installation that uses sound and light to bring winter back to urban settings while challenging participants, through playful interaction, to consider their own collective responsibility for these new climate conditions.
From north to south, the installation follows the journey of an iceberg, from its birth in Arctic waters to its melting off the southern coast. It features four “skeletons” representing the Iceberg at four different stages in its life. Four life stages: four different shapes and sizes, four illuminated spaces, and four distinct soundscapes.
Inspired by an organ, Iceberg is a series of metal arches that produce distinctive sounds. The illuminated arches form a tunnel inviting visitors to enter, listen, and play this massive musical instrument.
As visitors explore the arches, motion sensors hidden inside detect their movements, “warming up” the iceberg and transforming it into a symphony of sound and light.
Iceberg is a public artwork, for people of all ages. Interacting with the installation is simple and intuitive and can be done on different levels, offering many ways to explore and interact with the work.
Lights and sounds draw visitors to the icebergs, inviting them to go inside the tunnels of luminous, musical arches. When visitors pass underneath one of the arches, it triggers a change in the lighting and sound. So they quickly realize that their presence transforms the installation. They can continue exploring, bringing the other arches to life as they go. Or they can stay where they are, watching the lighting and sound transformation as it evolves, spreading from arch to arch. When there are more visitors under the arches, and increased human activity in the installation, the iceberg changes and warms up faster, bringing the lighting and sound to a climax, to the delight of all.
The work’s narrative depth and its different levels of interaction provide a coherent and stimulating experience to all visitors, from the youngest to the most observant.
Iceberg was created for Luminothérapie (“Light Therapy”) 2012, an event organized by Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles to encourage city residents to embrace winter and visit public spaces, despite the cold and snow. The installation was a big success from the first days of its operation.
Drawn by the shapes, lights, and sounds, many visitors surprised themselves by going out of their way to take a closer look at this unique work, go inside it, and get caught up in the fun.
Iceberg proved to be a work that was fundamentally universal, accessible to all. Children spent hours playing, older people braved the wind and ice to walk the full length of the installation, business people ventured over between meetings, even young, late-night revelers came to have a good time.
All of these visitors, having some innocent fun as passersby looked on, warmed up the monsters of ice, barometers of coming global climate change.
Iceberg transformed the vast esplanade of Place des Festivals into a fun and thought-provoking space. It changed the urban landscape of downtown and created a bright, festive atmosphere in the cold, gray Montreal winter.
Inspired by the iceberg’s very nature, all of the installation’s components were developed according to a common narrative thread that in their natural state, icebergs emit sounds. As seawater seeps into the iceberg’s crevices, it makes them resonate like organ pipes, with the notes changing as the iceberg melts. Iceberg was inspired by that musical instrument: a giant pipe organ composed of a series of metal arches making unique sounds, which visitors can “play”. The layout of the installation is inspired by the journey these icebergs take in nature. The visitor can follow the life of the iceberg, as it is presented in four different stages, from north to south, from its creation to its melting away. The structures’ various sizes and shapes therefore evoke the transformations icebergs undergo as they slowly melt. The soundscapes are designed to accompany in their own way the iceberg’s long drift towards southern waters. In the northern part of the installation, the sounds come from nature. But as visitors continue exploring and pass underneath the arches, the sounds they trigger become richer and more harmonized. As the iceberg drifts south, music is created and the lighting turns crimson as a result of human activity.