To create Mégaphone, in the autumn of 2013 we took over the Promenade des Artistes in the heart of Quartier des Spectacles in downtown Montreal with three distinct zones of interactive installation. First, a public square bordered by animated containers formed a focal point where anyone was invited to speak through the megaphone before a gathered audience. Second, voice-recognition software designed by the Computer Research Institute of Montreal captured fragments of text from each speaker. These fragments were 3D projection-mapped onto the façade of UQAM’s President-Kennedy building as an evolving visual manifestation that captured the ephemeral and energetic quality of public speech. Finally, a “speakers’ walk”, incorporating a custom-designed audio-visual setup, extended the length of the promenade.
The walk showcased seven key figures who have shaped public space in Montreal with their words. Revisiting these figures brought to mind the potential power of speech in a public forum through historical example. Altogether, this collaborative work of public art offered a unique interactive experience fuelled by visitors’ own reflections and ideas and helped renew a tradition of public speech in a collective and playful manner.