Hello Hello & River Lines
Montréal-based art and design studio, Daily tous les jours, has introduced Hello Hello and River Lines, two permanent interactive public art installations located in the Gaslight District of Cambridge, Ontario.
These installations, commissioned by HIP Developments as part of their ‘Joy Experiments’ program, invite the public to engage in uplifting rituals and encourage participation in the rich history of Ontario’s Grand River.
Hello Hello, the first installation, serves as a welcoming place as visitors enter the Gaslight District. Housed within a 13-meter luminescent arch, this interactive poetic messaging system transforms vocal communication into music and light. The radiant archway overlooks the banks of Cambridge’s Grand River and is framed by a wave-sculpted façade and backdrop.
The installation was inspired by the children’s game of Chinese Whispers, or Broken Telephone, where the input and output of messages don’t always match. Hello Hello is all about the magic of human presence as well as the non-verbal communication that is missing from the digital world. The installation is an open invitation to connect with others in a way which goes beyond language and words.
Passersby are encouraged to share greetings or messages at one of three microphones located at the base of the arch—whether directed towards friends, strangers, the city, or the river. As voices traverse the archway, they blend with vibrant shafts of color, resulting in a fusion of visuals and sound.
River Lines, an interactive musical pavement, plays a role in the revitalization of the Gaslight District. Located in the centre of the district, this art piece is accompanied by a large digital screen with visual cues. The artwork invites an impromptu musical ensemble and turns the public plaza into a stage for musical collaboration.
The wave-patterned pavement is embedded with light rings and sensors, with different instrument sections assigned to different sensors across the courtyard. When moving across the artwork, people can light it up and play instruments and notes which harmonize to create music. The River Lines screen plots players’ movements on a colourful map which is visible to everyone in the square.
River Lines is a short distance away from the Grand River and shifts the city’s attention back to its long-neglected waterfront. The central axis runs diagonally across the artwork and represents the high-water mark of the Grand River when it flooded close to 50 years ago. When players align on the “flood line,” a special soundtrack is created that symbolizes dependence on the natural world.
River Lines forms part of Daily tous les jours’ musical pavement series which brings a new musical dimension to cities, and includes Cimbalom Circle, Budapest (2022) and Pearl Divers, Dubai (2019).
River Lines and Hello Hello respond to the historical nature of the riverbank site, the community’s aspirations, and the need to bring activity and life to the downtown area. Additionally, it invites the people of Cambridge to create their own connections with the Gaslight District.
“Collaboration is more important than ever to the health of our wellbeing, our societies, and the planet. Using the raw material of the ‘daily everyday,’ our work explores the dynamics of cooperation between people in proposing new models of living and working together,” said Daily tous les jours co-founders Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat.
“With Hello Hello and River Lines we use light and music to encourage playful day-to-day interactions which promote collaborative and creative ways of living together. Additionally, Hello Hello was promoted by society’s default to interact online, with many of us forgetting how to say hello in the real world, so we wanted to create a ritual that reminds people how important it is to greet someone, and connect, in person.”
“I believe that one of the most important jobs of a city is to facilitate healthy connections between its citizens. It makes us healthy, happy, collaborative, and productive. The creation of The Gaslight District was HIP’s way of committing to that idea. The team at Daily tous les jours understood that objective and created moments of shared joy that brings strangers together and makes them a little less strange,” said HIP developments president Scott Higgins.
“These wonderful installations, and the act of public play that they encourage, are brilliant examples of Infrastructure for The Human Spirit, which we explore in The Joy Experiments. This is the type of infrastructure that cities of the future will need if they want social and economic prosperity.”
Both Hello Hello and River Lines build on Daily tous les jours’ goal to foster community connections and enrich the “social fabric” of public spaces through collective interactions. Both projects also add to Daily tous les jours’ international portfolio of free, playful outdoor and interactive urban installations.