November 8, 2017 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
The National Film Board of Canada and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) present their first-ever co-production, I Heard There Was a Secret Chord. An ambitious installation created by Daily tous les jours, the work is part of Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything – Une brèche en toute chose, a major multidisciplinary show at the MAC featuring 20 works by 40 artists from 10 countries, inspired by the life, work and themes of the eponymous Montreal literary icon. I Heard There Was a Secret Chord, whose title is the first line of Cohen’s anthemic song “Hallelujah,” is both an installation and an online experience (asecretchord.com, publicly accessible as of November 9, the exhibition’s opening date). This unique participatory experience seeks to reveal the invisible vibration uniting people around the world listening to “Hallelujah” at the same time, as real-time user data representing these listeners is transformed into a virtual choir of humming voices that participants can hum along with.
In addition to brand-new works commissioned for the occasion, the exhibition features innovative multimedia environments where Cohen’s songs will be covered and performed, as well as a survey of his archival material. Other works—including the film Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Mr. Leonard Cohen by Donald Brittain and Don Owen, produced by the NFB in 1965—are also part of the show, as are a series of concerts and events. Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything opens on November 9, 2017, one year to the day after Cohen’s passing, and runs until April 9, 2018. The exhibition is one of the city’s 375th-anniversary official events.
“The NFB is delighted to be partnering with the prestigious and innovative Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC), whose major exhibition on Leonard Cohen highlights the work of one of our greatest artists. I Heard There Was a Secret Chord is as daring as Cohen’s work, embodying the cutting-edge creative approach of Daily tous les jours, with whom the NFB has collaborated for a number of years. As we get set to move to the Quartier des Spectacles, this exciting joint undertaking with the MAC reflects our desire to forge strong partnerships with our downtown Montreal neighbours.”
– Claude Joli-Coeur, Government Film Commissioner and NFB Chairperson
“How can you give new life to a song that’s been covered so many times and is so well known? Daily tous les jours takes up the challenge brilliantly, incorporating within its very structure a reflection on the ubiquity of the song, which has—in a way—become a universal hymn. A breathtaking project that’s also a wonderful first collaboration between the NFB and the MAC.”
— John Zeppetelli, Director and Chief Curator, MAC
I Heard There Was a Secret Chord by Daily tous les jours
- The work’s title is the first line of Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” one of the most listened-to songs in the world. The project comprises a physical installation, i.e., a room in the exhibition, and an online experience, asecretchord.com.
In a large octagonal room with suspended microphones, a display indicates the number of people listening to “Hallelujah” on Spotify and YouTube, with each listener represented by a humming voice. The number displayed is the same both in the room and at asecretchord.com. These humming sounds are transformed into low-frequency vibrations that emanate from beneath the floor of the installation and get amplified as visitors start humming along, creating a tactile, collective experience.
The online experience is, in essence, a one-song radio channel that allows people anywhere in the world to tune into the same, perpetually fluctuating choir of humming voices, and to connect with the magic of Cohen’s artistry. It is the only online experience featured in the entire exhibition.
I Heard There Was a Secret Chord was created by Daily tous les jours (Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat). It is a Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal/National Film Board of Canada and Daily tous les jours co-production. The executive producers are Hugues Sweeney (NFB) and Victor Shiffman (MAC).
About Daily tous les jours
Recognized for the collective creative experiences it presents in public spaces, Daily tous les jours is a design studio whose primary focus is finding new ways to interact and tell stories. Ranging from small to large scale, its projects combine participation, design and technology, and take many forms: objects, urban planning and installations, exhibitions, social interventions, events, software applications and films. Daily tous les jours won the grand prize at the Interaction Design Awards and at the Shenzen Design Awards for 21 Balançoires. Its co-founders, Mouna Andraos and Melissa Mongiat, have garnered several awards in Europe and the US for their creations. Daily tous les jours also created the unique public-art installation Choreographies for Humans and Stars, specifically designed for the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, and an interactive work for McLaren Wall-to-Wall (NFB/Quartier des Spectacles Partnership), a public pathway marking the 100th anniversary in 2014 of the birth of master animator Norman McLaren.
Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Mr. Leonard Cohen remixed
Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Mr. Leonard Cohen by Donald Brittain and Don Owen (NFB, 1965) has been re-interpreted by four artists. Kota Ezawa (Cohen 21, 2017) revisits the film’s first 150 seconds; Christophe Chassol (Cuba in Cohen, 2017) remixes, scores and harmonizes clips from the film; Kara Blake (Les Offrandes, 2017) and George Fok (Passing Through, 2017) draw on its archival imagery. The original documentary can also be viewed at the exhibition and free of charge at NFB.ca.
Electronic Press Kit | Images, synopsis: I Heard There Was a Secret Chord
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
Daily tous les jours
Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything – Une brèche en toute chose
375th-anniversary official events
For the MAC
Head of Public Relations and Events
Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
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