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moonGARDEN: A little village of the oldest storytelling technique in the world

The oldest form of storytelling meets creativity and technology to create a fantastical evening village that tells stories relevant to the residents of Houston. Welcome to moonGarden by Montreal-based art collective Lucion. The creative team of artists, designers, musicians, filmmakers and screenwriters that’s responsible for more than 350 audiovisual productions, including light installations, architectural projections and interactive terminals bring their imaginative and engaging installation to Downtown Houston’s Discovery Green and the Avenida Houston campus, in collaboration with Houston First, from Sept. 29 to Oct. 7, 2018.

This WAG project continues a strategic plan that activates different sections of the green space with thought-provoking temporary public art.

Twenty-two illuminated spheres transform the space into a magical moonscape. Ranging in size from 6 to 30 feet in diameter, moonGARDEN features 11 shadow “theaters” that allow visitors to become part of the experience.

Ahead of the public reveal of this project, we chat with Lucion’s Bernard Duguay and Léa Nivet to learn more about their approach to art making and activating spaces.

Q: How did you first come up with the concept of moonGARDEN?

A: moonGARDEN was born in Montreal for the Luminotherapy Festival. Originally, we wanted people to collectively paint “virtually” on huge canvases. The spheres became the ideal canvases as they could gather people in a circle. I was also very inspired by works from shadow artists such as Boltansky. Shadow works became a natural fit for the spheres as well.

Q: What’s special about this version in Houston at Discovery Green?

A: The storytelling is very defined. It is almost like a cartoon book about Discovery Green and Houston.

Q: How did you source the stories for Discovery Green’s installation?

A: We had many discussions with the design group. They sent us pictures. We did a lot of web research. It was great to get personal points of view on Houston. We felt we connected a little better to the people by their stories. This is a delicious phase of production.

Q: Why is it important to include engaging public art opportunities in spaces like Discovery Green?

A: Shadows are the oldest storytelling technique in the world. moonGARDEN relates to our most basic symbols. The installation aims to create an environment that brings us close to a dream state. From this context people may interact more freely and discover other souls and families.

Q: What do you want visitors to take away from interacting with your work?

A: We tried to make moonGARDEN as a little village. The large spheres have an ominous silent presence during the day and start telling stories at sundown. They represent how our individual universes are all very near each other’s. What happens between people while visiting, enjoying and playing with the light painting application is really the takeaway. It makes us share our different points of view, experience other people’s sense of wonder.

We are made of tiny meaningful connexions and they ofter become the door to new paths.

Q: What are some of technical challenges in putting together this version of moonGARDEN?

A: Heat and rain are a challenge for the hundreds of little moving parts keeping moonGARDEN alive.