For the past few years, Montreal has been humming with demonstrations, elections, resignations and commissions. Since the first stirrings of the so-called “Maple Spring,” (Printemps érable) and now that the race for mayor is heating up, people throughout the city are feeling a collective need not only to express their ideas and their indignation, but also to reinvent themselves and party hardy. The interactive installation Megaphone, coming to Montreal this fall, is just the thing they need to make their voices heard loud and clear.
Do you have original ideas about what could make Montreal a better place? Then Megaphone will give you the chance to shout them from the rooftops, or rather (you guessed it) into a megaphone, then have them projected as images onto the front of the President Kennedy Building at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM). In other words, this building will be transformed into an oral canvas for the time that you are speaking.
Here’s how it works: as you talk into the mike, Megaphone will use voice-recognition technology to capture the features of your voice—your speed, your tone, the fluidity of your phrasing—and to identify the words that you are saying. Then it will convert your speech into unique moving visual images and project them against the Kennedy Building. Over the several weeks this fall that the installation will be operating, speeches like yours will thus cumulatively produce a visual work that reflects the pulse of the city and its citizens.
Everyone present will be encouraged to discuss and debate the speakers’ ideas. The Promenade des Artistes, where the Kennedy Building is located, will thus be transformed into the modern equivalent of the agora, the public square in ancient Athens where democracy was born.
Citizens speaking their minds in the public square is part of Quebec’s own oral tradition. In the 1920s, popular assemblies (themselves inspired by the Speakers’ Corners that became part of the London scene in the 19th century) enabled citizens to use street corners as meeting places where they could express ideas that they considered important, so long as they did not incite any violence. In 2013, in the age of social networks, modern technology will join forces with this tradition to give the people of Montreal back their voice in the heart of the city.
The Megaphone project will take place from Wednesday through Saturday every week from September 5 to November 4. This project is currently in the call for participation stage. This means that any citizen association can reserve a time slot of up to 60 minutes, stating the name of the proposed speaker and the topic on which he or she will speak.
There are no restrictions on the topic, except that it must relate to Montreal in some way. Poets, business people, politicians, residents and passers-by are all invited to use this unique space to express themselves and reclaim the art of public speaking in downtown Montreal.
To reserve a time slot, click on the Sign Up button at the bottom of this page.
Created by Moment Factory and co-produced by the NFB and the Quartier des spectacles de Montréal, Megaphone is bilingual and will enable all Montrealers to express themselves through this same project. Thus many voices will pass through a single megaphone!