Visiting a site of sacred contemplation has never been so enthralling as Moment Factory’s immersive illuminated project, Aura, at Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica.
Designed by Irish-American architect James O’Donnell in 1824, the Gothic Revival cathedral is adorned with exquisite gilded detail, soaring lines and rich colours intended to ‘to lift visitors’ hearts and voices into communion with the divine.’
Today, nearly two hundred years later, Moment Factory bring that aspiration to life in their 45-minute immersive light and video projection-mapping experience, Aura, that is accompanied by a stirring orchestral score.
In celebration of Montreal’s 375th anniversary, the all consuming experience takes visitors on an ethereal journey in two acts. Starting with a self-led tour of the Basilica, visitors encounter the cathedral’s artworks in a new light through the enhancement of multimedia installations. Then they are invited to take their seats for the main attraction that unleashes an imaginative tableaux of animated projections.
Aura has been two years in the making, with over 100 people working to bring the complex project to life.
All the intricacies of the Basilica’s ornate architecture were captured in a meticulous 3D scan to form a canvas so the projection-mapping’s visual content could be seamlessly integrated with the space. The visual content was produced over four intense months and it took 90 days to install the 21 projectors, 140 lights, four lasers and 20 mirrors.
The musical element took the longest. Composed by Marc Bell and Gabriel Thibaudeau of TroubleMakers, the orchestral composition was performed by 20 chorists, 30 musicians and the Basilica’s resonant organ, taking a year to record.
When everything is brought together, Aura creates one of the most awe-inspiring visual spectacles. The augmented reality not only enriches the Basilica’s grandiose architecture with its concave surfaces and elaborate carvings but also absorbs up to 600 visitors in an electric, transformative experience that transcends the everyday.
Moment Factory are known for their pioneering shows that transform entertainment into exceptional experiences. The Montreal-based studio was founded in 2001 by Sakchin Bessette and Dominic Audet, combining their experience of visual art and multimedia with storytelling with an aim of creating ‘unforgettable experiences’. Then in 2007, they were joined by Éric Fournier who put his creative strategy skills to work.
With an aim of bringing people together and inspiring ‘a sense of collective wonder and connection’, Aura is without doubt Moment Factory’s most ambitious illumination project.
Aura is at Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal, 110 Notre-Dame Street West, Montreal, Quebec H2Y 1T1, Canada. Performances are Tuesday–Thursday at 6pm, Friday 6pm and 8pm, Saturday 7pm and 9pm (subject to change). Tickets $23 plus fees. Booking for 2018 is now open.
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