The Irresistible Lightness of Playing

I take the Metro straight to Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles. The latest smile inducing installation does not disappoint. Large pink, turquoise, orange and yellow interior lit tablets shaped like PEZ™ lozenges are arranged side by side on raised platforms. Standing on end à la dominoes, they are waiting for a push. Warm, ethereal tones synch with luminous sweeps through each sequence making for mini light and sound shows…
The play area consists of a half-dozen or so installations along rue Jeanne Mance. Here in the shadows of the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal public sculptures become the activity, the conversation, the beacon, a signature authenticating the irresistible lightness of playing.
Just One Small Push
This festival city knows a thing or two about play, fun, divertissement. The Quartier des spectacles immerses le grand public Montréalais in experiences that liberate and transport beyond the daily ho-humocrity. It’s all part of the creative continuum from mega street shows with global jazz greats to participatory playfulness for passersby.
domino effect by Montreal interactive design firm Ingrid Ingrid is part of the 9th edition of Luminothérapie. No better time for a little light and lightness in Canada than during our cold, dark, crisp winters.
All Fall Down
A well dressed, elderly man, approaches me and asks if I am responsible for the musical dominoes, or simply an admirer. We both agree there is some capital ‘F’ fun on offer for anyone inclined to pause and embark.
The thunkity-thud sound of falling ‘dominoes’ pulls people in to the half-dozen or so installations. Each has a different colour scheme, configuration and melody.
Rainbow at Dusk

There are only so many ways to make the dominoes fall. Only once throughout an afternoon and early evening do I see the ‘split and part’ – the manoeuvre recorded in the GIF above. More commonly it’s an end to end run, or the two ends set off against each other and colliding somewhere in the middlish.

There is no shortage of style, élan, flair and flourish as players set up and knock over the dominoes. It’s an active experience in sound, light and motion that appeals to a broad range  – young and old, couples, singles and families, the well heeled and the hard up.

Line ’em Up, Knock ’em Down
When there is more than one player, the dominoes inspire cooperation: getting everything set up to go; and, sharing by taking turns to dispatch them on their musical colliding runs of colour.


Luminothérapie, Ingrid Ingrid and le Quartier des spectacles make a concrete, palpable call to action – play and have fun.

domino effect until January 27, 2018.

Warning – you won’t be able to play just once and you may wind up speaking with strangers…

2 responses to “The Irresistible Lightness of Playing

  1. Another nice one, Alex! Whoever designed this and installed it should get an award. There are only a few practical dynamic sculptures that are also interactive and illuminated. Brilliant

    • Thanks Donne. Montreal is a wonderful city for this kind of public engagement. They totally get the value of the fun element. These are activities that people remember and share and I don’t mean on social media. Hope you are well and spent some good time with family and friends over the holidays. Thanks for the info on your book too. I’m going to follow up with you about that at another point. All the best in 2019 – may we have more joy in the world and greater protection for and understanding of children’s rights. Cheers, Alex

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