Artificial aurora borealis created in Montréal through street installation by architects Jean Beaudoin and Erick Villeneuve
The Ice Cloud, named in french ‘Nuage de Givre’, is a giant scale installation comprised of 100 000 water cells hovering over Montreal’s main downtown plaza. The artwork of 35,000 sq ft is morphing to the weather, winds and, at night, visitors trigger light borealis by travelling under the cloud.
The installation is part of an initiative by the Partenariat du Quartier des spectacles, an organisation uniting all major cultural institutions of Downtown Montreal, to reclaim the public spaces of the city in winter time in order to make Montreal a thorough Nordic City. The idea was initiated in 2009 by the installation Pixel field| Champ de pixels and has evolved into a national open competition ‘Créer l’hiver| Creeate winter’ that was won by Jean Beaudoin and Erick Villeneuve for their proposal ‘The Ice Cloud | Le Nuage de Givre’.
The cloud is made out of 100 000 water cells made out of standard Cryopak cooling bags, hung on 4 giant nets. The installation thus reacts to the weather temperature as it liquefies at +5°C and freezes over at -5°C. The installation also react to the winds that are unveiled in moving cells and shades in daytime, and expressed in light at night.
10 surveillance camera are feeding 18 video projectors are generating light borealis over the passers-by (view video here). The interactive lighting underlines the presence of Montrealers and visitors on the Plaza. A livecam over the site is both promoting the installation as well as enabling the visitor to see in real time on iphones the impact of their presence on the site.
The morphing nature of the installation, defined by the context and its animation, is contributing to strengthen, and extend to winter, the identity of Quartier des spectacles, downtown’s theatre district, and by extension Montreal’s unique mutating spaces that are created by the internationally known summer festivals.