Montreal firm reinvents the public bench with collective motion and music

The creators of Musical Swings, Daily tous les jours, have introduced their latest project, Daydreamer.

Photo credit: Leah Tribbett

The creators of Musical Swings, Daily tous les jours, have introduced a groundbreaking concept with their latest project, Daydreamer. This sculptural series consists of interactive benches designed to slowly rock, produce gentle music, and facilitate synchronized movements, pushing the boundaries of collective motion.

The primary objective of Daydreamer is to cultivate a sense of ritual and communal experience within a calming auditory environment. These innovative benches have been designed to adapt to various indoor and outdoor settings, making them versatile and customizable.

Daydreamer reimagines the conventional public bench, advocating for unhurried, synchronized rocking movements that contribute to a therapeutic ambiance within public spaces.

Research has shown that rocking can induce a state of daydreaming, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, engaging in synchronized activities has been found to enhance social bonds and empathy among individuals beyond the initial interaction.

The Daydreamer benches feature a set of long, revolving benches equipped with a sound and sensing system. Each bench can accommodate up to four people and is constructed from Canadian white oak with a powder-coated aluminum arch. Interactive LED lights are integrated into the arch and beneath the seat to accentuate the motion.

When individuals sit on these benches and initiate rocking or spinning motions, motion detection triggers music and light animations. This harmonious fusion of analog and digital movements allows for rocking in four quarters or a 360˚ rotation with a bit more user effort. Whether seated or standing, people can make music by interacting with the bench. Regardless of the playing style, the bench’s pivot center ensures a deliberate and unhurried motion.

Photo credit: Leah Tribbett

The audio component of Daydreamer comprises recordings of human voices, with the notes sung varying based on the bench’s position and direction of movement. The speed of movement determines the volume. By mapping diverse musical parameters to physical states, a strong connection is established between body movements and music. Each bench occupies a slightly different musical register, including soprano, alto, and tenor. When benches are moved in synchronicity, voices sing more complex partitions, fostering collaboration among participants. The resulting ensemble offers a dynamic blend of tension, release, motion, and stillness.

In terms of diversity and inclusion, Daydreamer strives to create inclusive and diverse social spaces. The option for very slow bench rotations ensures that people of all ages, including elders and children, can safely engage with the installation. Moreover, the bench can be turned by holding the arch, making it accessible for individuals in wheelchairs. This inclusive approach results in a gentle spectacle that combines sound, movement, and light, offering sensory diversity. Daydreamer encourages a broad audience to explore and connect through joyful interactions.

Daily tous les jours is renowned for its commitment to creating playful and interactive urban installations that bring joy to public spaces. The Daydreamer installation invites the public to directly engage with the artwork, offering a simple ritual for relaxation and decompression. True to its name, the installation invites the public’s imagination into play, transforming public spaces into places of relaxation for urban residents.

The inaugural set of three Daydreamer benches was initially installed in South Bend, Indiana, as part of efforts to revitalize the city and reconnect citizens to their riverfront. These kinetic musical benches allow passers-by to engage with the natural surroundings while establishing a new space for tranquility and collaboration within the city.

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