Every spring, an interactive installation takes over a high-traffic area in Montréal’s Quartier des spectacles and sets a collective ritual. The installation offers a fresh look at the idea of cooperation, the notion that we can achieve more together than separately. 21 Balançoires (21 Swings) is a musical installation from which certain melodies emerge only through cooperation between players, thus stimulating a sense of community and ownership of space.
The project is located on a site neighbouring a science faculty and Montreal’s opera house. We worked the interaction scenario with both a scientist from the faculty, Luc-Alain Giraldeau, biology professor and expert on cooperation amongst animals, and a local musician, Radwan Ghazi-Moumneh. Together we explored the concept of cooperation: ”Cooperation emerges when the behaviour of each individual depends on the decisions of the rest of the group: it’s a game where, from the start, you need to adjust to the actions of others.”
When in motion, each swing triggers different notes, and when used all together, the swings create a musical composition in which certain melodies emerge only through cooperation. This collaborative exercise stimulates intuitive play and experimentation amongst people of all ages and backgrounds, whether they know each other or not, and leads participants and spectators to become aware of each other, and their environment.
Ultimately, 21 Swings creates a vibrant place for playing and hanging out in the middle of the city center.