A couple of weeks ago, I went to Montreal’s Nuit Blanche. It’s an all-night festival offering a bunch of cultural presentations. Most of the activities are free and they include museums, street art performances, winter out-door activities, concerts etc… One of these activities is called “Art Souterrain” (Underground Art). It’s a huge exhibition of modern art in Montreal underground city. It goes from sculptures to interactive audio/video experiences to live performances. I must admit I don’t understand all of it, I’m not really into this kind of abstract modern art, but it is still entertaining.
One of the thing I noticed was quite interesting. People seemed really interested by this wall of screens and fluorescent tubes at Place des Arts. It’s a big assemblage of screens and light telling a story through some kind of abstract videos. What was interesting about it? Well, it was not part of the “Art Souterrain” exhibition. This has been there for two years or so. In “normal” times, nobody pays attention to it. Of course there is sometimes, a couple of tourists taking pictures or stopping to watch, but most of people here just go pass it, have a quick glance and don’t pay more attention than that.
When people are in a context of experiencing art, all of sudden this screen wall takes another dimension. It makes people stop, dozens and dozens of them. They take pictures like it is something so unique in space and time that they have to immortalize this moment. Do they know they can come back another day and appreciate it without the whole crowd? Would they notice it and appreciate it during a normal day? Who knows?
It makes me wonder: What/who goes unnoticed every day because no context makes us pay attention?