Multiple choices

Departement’s series of video pieces make daring use of a mosaic of 35 different-sized screens installed at the Montréal Place des Arts


Created for the giant installation of 35 video screens in the foyer of Montréal’s Place des Arts, Departement’s Locomotive films aim to reflect the different types of performance on show at the arts centre throughout the year. The mosaic of screens is arranged so that the filmed content appears to interact with that of its neighbour, and the whole sequence resembles a vast chain reaction. In one version, the movements of a group of naked performers are dissected across the display. Each screen reveals a particular action in close-up – a hand grasping a forearm; a lip pulled by a finger – each isolated movement affecting what happens on the adjacent screen. The brief for the work, says Departement, was to illustrate the wider mission of the Place des Arts by referencing four keywords: culture, discovery, emergence and contact.

The creative studio likens the end result to “a fantastical portrayal of a human machine” where body parts become pistons and cranks, and footage of people dancing, or playing instruments, weaves in and out in time with the soundtrack. It is, says Departement, “funny, monstrous, and sensual all at the same time”.

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