Projects: Real-Time Generative Content At Paris’ Grand Palais

April 7, 2015 by Dave Haynes

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One of the emerging trends in large format digital displays and walls will, I think, be generative, visualized content based on data and then dynamically rendered.

It will happen because the investment goes in at the front-end but the content keeps refreshing itself, as opposed to needing to be re-thought and re-made regularly. And it will happen because data and other collected information will inform and shape the presentation, and steadily change in interesting ways.

Here’s an ambitious, art-focused glimpse of that – through the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ traveling exhibition about rebel fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. The exhibit’s latest stop is at the  Grand Palais in Paris, and the venue put the investment in to what it calls a participatory installation built around a huge projection screen at the top of a staircase.

The concept and visuals were executed by Montreal’s Moment Factory, which picks up the story in its blog:

Working closely with the curators at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the onsite team at the Grand Palais, we developed a concept to animate the Escalier des arts, a staircase located in between the first and second floors of the museum. Inspired by Gaultier’s open-minded approach to models from all walks of life, and the notion of the fashion catwalk, the Escalier des arts becomes the Staircase of the Muses. Contrasting the classic baroque lines of the undulating staircase with bold imagery reminiscent of Gaultier’s in-your-face approach to haute couture, the installation invites the public to take make their mark on the catwalk.


The illuminated stairs beckon, as camera flashes simulate the frenzied atmosphere of a fashion show. Once at the top of the stairs, visitors trigger a camera that takes a snapshot of their silhouette. These images then form part of a generative design, featuring Gaultier motifs and palettes. The resulting video composition is unique to each participant, and is projected on the large-scale backdrop of the staircase landing. Always in flux, the projection runs continuously in real-time, remixing imagery from past visitors with new colours and motifs to form original visuals throughout the four months of the exhibition.

The Staircase of the Muses is thus a true celebration of the public, inviting them to become part of Gaultier’s festive narrative. It was an inspiration to work with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Grand Palais in honouring the work of one of our true fashion icons.

One of Jean Paul Gaultier’s muse, Kylie Minogue, even played the game!

The set-up uses a Barco projector and a media server developed by another Montreal company, X-Agora.

Data visualization and generative data will be one the main topics of DSrupted in September in Toronto, through a talk by Microsoft’s Mike Pell.

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