We got involved with the project almost a year ago. The idea was to interpret the songs by Broken Social Scene’s guitarist (and one of their resident geniuses) Charles Spearin, in a visual way. The plan was to take over a house or apartment and give rooms to artistic folk to use. We wanted to do something, although we didn’t have a clear idea what. The pieces of music all started out as recordings of Charles’ neighbours talking, which he built into beautiful compositions. We felt it made sense to have people piece together the different layers of the track by themselves.

We worked with Crush technical engineers Rudy Ledvinka and Scott Carradice to design the room with a variety of sensors and switches which would trigger layers of sound as drawers were opened and people sat on the bed or chair. We also built a CG model of the room with an animated man, representing Mr. Gowrie, the man who’s narration formed the basis of our song. We had the CG model made as four physical models which we mounted in the chest of drawers, each accompanied by a story which fleshed out the narrative in the song. We added a few lights and that was that.

The piece ran during Pop Montreal in The Happiness Project’s temporary headquarters on Hutchison Street. Montreal is an awesomely great place for this kind of thing, and there were crowds every day, with people carefully checking out each room and then enjoying cookies in the kitchen with the organizers from Artist Bloc.

We were surprised at the reaction. People found it incredibly powerful. Some cried, most checked out everything and some sat mesmerized on the bed watching the projection. Everyone had a different experience with Mr. Gowrie. It was an incredibly useful exercise for us, being that we’re used to delivering finished visuals which are meant to be seen passively. This was a whole new world for us, and one that we want to explore further.

more info happiness-project.ca

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