An Unusual Ride on the Metro

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“Point de fuite.” Photo by MTL Guy on Flickr.

I was going to wait until I’d seen it myself before writing about it, but Fagstein has beat me to the punch: there’s a spooky metro car going around on the orange line.

Spacing Montreal contributor Jacob Larsen was the first to tell me, at our last meeting, about his strange experience of riding in a metro car with a dark blue interior and creepy music playing over the PA system. Then, earlier this evening, my friend Mary told me that she too was in dark blue metro car when a woman’s voice could be heard saying, in Mandarin, “I think the next station is Berri-UQAM. It’s such a nice day out! That woman over there is cute. Oh, that other woman looks sad. But it’s such a nice day out!”

(Check out a cell phone video of the car here.)

The spooky metro car is an initiative by the artist Rose-Marie Goulet called Point de fuite. Goulet was interviewed last month on Radio-Canada’s morning show. The goal of the project, she said, was to reach out to “people who don’t necessarily have the opportunity to go to a place where they can see art, like a gallery or a museum. Why not have a work of art in our daily lives that can change attitudes, to provoke discussion amongst people in the metro?” In a nod to Montreal’s multilingualism, the audio clips in “Point de fuite” are in French, English, Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic.

“The ambient sound in the metro is very loud, up to 85 decibels, so we created sound ‘bubbles’ that interfere with our own aural space,” added Goulet. “The idea was to create another voyage, by sound and sight, beyond the trip that we take every day.”

I’d love to experience the installation myself, if only to see how passengers react. Unfortunately, many metro commuters are shoe-gazing zombies, so the effect of the art might be lost, at least at rush hour. “A lot of people on my train turned their heads wondering who was carrying speakers,” observes Fagstein. “The sound is surprisingly clear, and just a little bit louder than the station announcements. Reaction was sadly underwhelming. People coming home from work are amazingly uninterested in things going on around them.”

Point de fuite will ride the rails for another six months, eventually taking the blue and yellow lines as well as the orange. Pretty much the only way to experience it is to encounter it randomly. If you want to hunt it down, though (and I have no idea how that would be possible), you’ll find it in the centre car of the number 78-007 metro train.

Crossposted from Spacing Montreal.

This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Saturday October 13 2007at 03:10 am , filed under Canada, Transportation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

2 Responses to “An Unusual Ride on the Metro”

  • sounds like a great art project!
    and as for audience response…i know for myself, often i will take things in in a quiet non outwardly expressive manner, so i suspect this may be happening to some of the listeners on the metro as well. people may be very affected, but on the inside. i love the reference to the outside (its a nice day outside), and the care the artist has taken to incorporate a multitude of languages. i highly suspect if you are someone who is from one of the communities whose language is normally not presented in the public domain and you hear your language spoken you will be listening very closely. it is kinda like an acknowledgment that your culture exists.

  • f. panic says:

    I agree with dream listener — sounds like a fantastic art project — and same with being one amongst “the shoe-gazing zombies.” On buses, on the metro…. any form of public transportation, most people have their public masks on. It’s rare to see pure joy on the metro, or complete despair. Everyone looks to be part of a solid mask of indifference, but who knows what happens when those people get home and tell their family and friends about the seriously weird metro car?