Musical Railings at the Bastion Square Parkade in Victoria, BC.

by Scott on 2016/08/02

After months of development and installation, Monkey C Interactive’s first permanent interactive public artwork, Musical Railings, is now complete and open to the public.

Using sensors and microcontrollers, the back stairwell of the Bastion Square (Yates Street) Parkade in Victoria, BC, has been modified into a fully-playable 5-story-tall musical instrument with sound-responsive led lights. And people are having a lot of fun with it. We couldn’t be more thrilled.

The #musicalrailings at Yates Street Parkade love the weekend!!!!! #yyj #publicart #victoriabc #interactiveart #yyjart @cityofvictoria

A video posted by Monkey C Interactive (@monkeycinteractive) on

It actually (sort-of-secretly) has been up for the last couple months while we tested and tweaked it. In that time, hundreds of people accidentally stumbled upon it, and returned to show their friends “the magical, musical staircase.” (This was a phrase used by a young gentleman who welcomed us to the stairwell one night while we were there to work on the installation.)

Each of the 10 landings of the stairwell has 8 sensors embedded into the railing. Sounds are triggered by simply placing a hand over one of the sensors. Some of the floors are individual instruments (like a piano) while others are loops that allow people to remix a funky bluesy track by Victoria’s Jules Uno or some Glitch-hop by France’s CLoZee.

Protip: The sensors are photoresistors, which are light sensitive. They trigger when they are darkened, which means using the palms of your hand works best in direct sunlight. Believe-it-or-not, your fingers are translucent.

We built the system the allow us to change the sounds, songs, and lights which we’re hoping to do a couple times of year, and we’ve got a few tricks planned… but more on that later.

Sunset with @sealovesealove at the musicalrailings #yyj #victoriabc #interactiveart #publicart #bastionsquare #musicalrailings

A video posted by Monkey C Interactive (@monkeycinteractive) on

Projects of this scope can’t happen by themselves, so we’re thankful that we had the support of our community. A huge thanks to The City of Victoria, One Net Studios, Limbic Media, PK Sound Victoria, InterArts, Victoria Makerspace, Kindle Arts, Tedx Victoria, Byte Computers and MediaNet for helping to make this project happen.

And an extra-special thanks to the musicians who stepped up make music for the first wave of the project – Jules Uno, David Parfit, and CloZee

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