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The five of us

December 27, 2011

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I’m not talking about the Ghyslaine Côté film, but the creative team that built the Forêt Forêt project that has transformed the area around Saint-Laurent métro into a forest of playful, interactive birches until February 2012. After having crossed half the city in a kind of bike-centric remake of Singing in the Rain, I found Jessica Charbonneau from TagTeam Studio snuggled in her loft on Iberville.

By Félix Larose
“It was supposed to be under all this snow!” Jessica yelled, sounding like a director who isn’t getting what she wants. After months of preparation, the red ribbon will soon be cut and the installation opened to the Montreal public.

“In Quebec, we have a really direct relationship with nature. We wanted to recreate the magical aspect of a snowy forest to create a contrast with the brown slush of the urban winter.”

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Photo credit | Martine Doyon
The concept is simple. In a dense forest of steel birches, three trees are equipped with microphones that, at the sound of a voice, activate certain lights and sounds in different parts of the space. When all three microphones are activated at once, the whole forest suddenly comes alive.

“When there are forest fires, birches are the first trees to sprout from the bare ground. As this is a vacant lot where nothing ever happens, it’s conceptually relevant to use this species of tree.”

The transitory space around Saint-Laurent metro is so often left to itself that the five creators are practically a pioneer species. Among the five members of the team, four are recent graduates of the specialized graduate program in event design at UQAM. It was even the director of the program who pushed her former students to submit a project.

“We had to present a turnkey project for the competition organized by the Quartier des Spectacles. It’s one thing to do that on paper, but it’s another thing to realize it from A to Z. We tried to achieve an interesting density, but we had to arrange everything just so to get it to work under budget. But it all went really well, both between us and between the producer and the team. In the end, we learned a huge amount.”

So when the snow invades the city and the cold freezes the tip of your nose, there will be one more place to find your roots again, somewhere among the skyscrapers of Montreal.

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