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Leisure Handbook - Daily Tous les Jours


Daily Tous les Jours

Montreal design studio Daily Tous Les Jours creates charmingly bonkers installations, which use technology to help people have fun, sing, talk and make music. Co-founder, Mouna Andraos, talks to Kath Hudson

Kath Hudson
We use the tools of design and technology in order to engage with the public and to get them to expand their imaginations
Mouna Andraos (right) with Daily Tous Les Jours co-founder Melissa Mongiat
The Giant Sing Along will be returning to the Minnesota State Fayre this year

What ‘s your career background?
Originally I studied film and liberal arts and then interactive on the web. It was exciting to engage the public with different types of narratives online. After doing that for a few years, I did a Masters degree at New York University, looking at new technologies in computing and touchpoint interfaces.

How did you and DTLJ co-founder Melissa Mongiat meet?
We met about three years ago. We had both come back to Montreal after a few years abroad – Melissa had been working in London – and were looking for collaborators. A mutual friend put us in touch with each other, as our backgrounds were complementary.

Pretty much the first time we sat down to talk we thought it would be interesting for us to work together.

So what is the aim of Daily Tous Les Jours?
Our aim is to create projects that inspire people to reinvent a little bit of their everyday world. We use the tools of design and technology in order to engage with the public and to get them to expand their imaginations.

What was the biggest challenge in getting the company off the ground?
Everything! We were lucky to have good support and some clients lined up, but we didn’t have an office or a name for the first six months.

The biggest challenge came after about a year, when we were trying to figure out what we really do, what we are all about and how could we build that into a more sustainable company. This process is ongoing.

What are your roles?
Melissa and I are both creative directors of the company.

How big is the company now?
We have six people working full time in Montreal, and we go back and forth to the US. We also use lots of independent freelancers, with specialist expertise, on a project by project basis.

Do you and Melissa Mongiat have the skills yourselves to bring a project to fruition?
We like to bring in other people too, because it helps, even at the ideas stage.

We try to have people who come from different fields. For example, we worked with a biology professor, Luc-Alain Giraldeau, for the 21 Balançoires project [which saw a set of special swings installed in a busy area of Montreal. As the swings move, they play different notes, and when several people swing together they create a piece of music]. His speciality was animal behaviour and sociability. When we started working together with him, we found there were lots of commonalities with what we wanted to do and his research.

We were interested in patterns of co-operation and how to get humans to co-operate with each other. In this project, the music is the reward they get for co-operating by working together on the swings and we observe complete strangers collaborating.

Did you achieve your aim of getting people to interact?
Yes, people try to work with each other. Two people will be swinging and catch someone else who is walking by and get them to join in. It was amazing to see strangers have conversations.

Your projects require people to interact, are they supervised?
Usually we leave people to do it on their own. I like to tell the story of the Giant Sing Along at the Minnesota State Fayre [a field of microphones was placed to encourage a giant karaoke style sing-song]. This is a fayre where everything has been the same for years, so it was difficult for a newcomer. At 8am we were all set up and no one was there. Fifteen minutes later one guy took a microphone and started singing, so I stood next to him and sang along to show there was room for more people. After about 15 minutes they got it and never stopped.

We make the interactions clear, so everyone can understand and design different levels of engagement, from being a spectator to leading the troops.

Where do the ideas come from?
They are very simple ideas. Everything has been done before, it’s just a case of treating the idea differently so it becomes something else. The ideas come from context; we try to understand where these projects are going to be, what kind of audience they are going to have, what resources are available and what state of mind people will be in when they encounter our projects.

Have you had any ideas which you haven’t managed to pull off yet?
There’s a big jar of them! We laugh, because we always think they’re great when we put them in the jar and when you pull them back out, mostly they’re not that great!

You are working with the Montreal planetarium on a new project. Tell us more
The brief was to create an interactive projection on a façade which is not meant for interactive projection! We are going to invite people to produce patterns of movements of planets and stars, such as the earth spinning around the sun. People will move around on a series of platforms where their movement is captured; depending on how they move they will trigger different animations. We will then reproduce the effect of this through video projection, creating the images and visuals as little animations. It should open in the winter and will stay for a minimum of three years.

What drives you?
The chance to ignite in people a sense of what is possible. The more the impact is transformative – it allows people to do something they wouldn’t have done, to learn, to see things from a new perspective and feel empowered to do more – the more it drives us.

What do you love most about your job at DTLJ?
When it’s done! It’s great when you can engage with the public, get them to smile, and forget about the difficulties in getting there. It’s always amazing to see how they find new ways to work and interact with the project. Also I like getting old and young to play together.

Are there any downsides?
We’re always reinventing the wheel.

What are your short and long term ambitions for the company?
We want to continue to explore interaction between people and their surroundings, looking at what experiences bring people together and transform the way they live. We also want our temporary experimental projects to become permanent interventions wherever possible.

Long term, we’re fascinated by the ‘future of’ things, whether they are public places, technologies, schools, hospitals, restaurant or libraries. We hope explore a large variety of scenarios and locations in which we can engage the public.

THE PROJECTS - On The Difficulty of Serving Tea

Celebrating the ancient ritual of tea, this was presented at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 2011. Visitors were invited to try and pour a cup of tea from a suspended teapot, via a complicated set of pulleys. Sugar was added via a small catapult.

On The Difficulty of Serving Tea at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London
21 Balançoires
21 Balançoires (21 Swings) is a giant collective instrument. The message behind it is that people can achieve more together than they can separately. Each swing is a different instrument – there are four instruments and the trajectory of the swing triggers different notes. Every few minutes the chords change and when people swing it triggers a melody.

Melodies emerge only through co-operation, and the exercise of co-operation means more layers are unravelled. It’s a game where people have to adjust to the actions of others. Swings were chosen as the conduit because everyone has nostalgic childhood memories of them.

The swings were installed in Montreal in 2010 and are being reinstalled by popular demand. Daily Tous Les Jours is currently in talks about taking the swings to other cities.

Kit Opérette
This installation at La Gaité Lyrique museum in Paris allows people to become opera performers, each playing a different role, such as a tenor or soprano.

Visitors sing and dance in a dynamic setting reminiscent of a burlesque operetta. Props include a ping pong table, a pair of suspended wings, a chequered dance floor, a skirt, two umbrellas and six pom poms. People interact with the props to create the music; when it is their turn, the lights project onto them.

Each player adopts a different part in the performance, and the piece evolves along with their participation. The project was largely inspired by the tradition of the historical Théâtre de la Gaîté in Paris.

The Giant Sing Along
Taking place at the 2011 and 2012 Minnesota State Fayres, this was a field full of microphones, inviting people to sing together, karaoke-style, and enjoy a contagious, uplifting communal experience. A large screen displayed the lyrics of the songs, voted for by the public.

Discordant notes were avoided by a sound-processing system auto-toning the voices, adjusting the pitch and the reverb and ensuring everyone sounded good.

The songs were chosen by the public prior to the event via the website.

Watch the videos
You can watch videos of the installations
at:- www.dailytouslesjours.com

From Leisure Management
Issue 3 2012, p38

Originally published in Leisure Handbook 2014 issue 1

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