Denys Lavigne Surfaces; Opening An Immersive Experience Venue In Montreal Tomorrow
February 24, 2021 by Dave Haynes
Denys Lavigne built up one of the most respected and awarded creative shops in digital signage, but Arsenal Media unfortunately petered out as a company in the wake of its 2014 acquisition by Christie.
Denys eventually left, and I suspect a lot of people in digital signage have been wondering what he’s been up to.
He’s a friend and we stay in touch, and I have known for a couple of years now that he was formulating a new business based around experiential media. The pandemic got seriously in the way, but Lavigne and his business partners are about to open what they hope will be just the first of several facilities around the globe that immerse visitors in experiential visuals.
His project is called Oasis Immersion – a cavernous set of rooms bathed in laser-projected visuals. The launch facility is a converted space in a big corner of the Palais du Congres – Montreal’s main convention centre, right in the heart of the city. There are 105 laser projectors and 119 surround sound speakers in the venue.
The idea is you buy a ticket, and then walk at your own pace, and design, through a set of rooms filled with thematic visuals.
Denys likens the experience to a visually-driven magazine, intended to deliver inspiring and uplifting visuals. It’s a marked difference from other immersive exhibits around the globe that have tended to focus on visualized data pieces or celebrate, on a giant scale, the works of famous artists like Van Gogh.
The opening mix of subjects, which will rotate out this fall, include a look at the life and work of Quebecois astronaut David Saint-Jacques, the music of local pianist Alexandra Stréliski, and a large-format piece from filmmaker Émile Roy that touches on the very nutty past year.
There’s also a look at hygge, the Danish wellness lifestyle; the world’s top architectural wonders, and a look at Quebec’s creative community (Cirque du Soleil, Moment Factory and countless other globally known creative efforts come out of Montreal).
The venue can take a pile of people at once, but Oasis is metering foot traffic to just 25 people every 20 minutes, which means tons of social distancing is doable when running at roughly 10 per cent capacity. It’s not ideal, revenue-wise, but at least it’s finally opening.
This has been a LONG road for Denys. My wife Joy and I walked the venue with him back in July 2019, when we were passing through the city, and the plan was to open about a year ago. But … COVID-19.
It’s great to see this come to life. This one obviously needs to get established and the world to normalize, but the intention is to open more of these in other cities.
As I understand, this is part of a larger effort to move the Palais du Congres beyond just being a convention center and a transit hub. The time really seems right to re-imagine the use of these facilities. I had some early insight into this having been involved with the technical procurement process and I think the foresight I saw to turn, what is already a pretty architecturally iconic facility into something really new is genius. Nobody saw the plague coming (I think nobody did!), but this effort is a great example of getting out of the gates early with V2.0 of out of home life, and I credit Denys and his team for it.
I can’t wait until I can come out from under my bed and visit!