Kontinuum’s opening week draws more than 15,000 visitors

More than 15,000 people checked out the Kontinuum underground multimedia show in its opening week, organizers say.

The unique Ottawa 2017 event takes visitors into the unfinished Lyon LRT station for an immersive sound and light experience created by Montreal’s Moment Factory. The overall budget was about $4 million.

Entry is free and tickets can be reserved online at www.ottawa2017.ca/events/signature-events/kontinuum. The show runs daily until Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

As of noon Friday, more than 82,500 tickets had been reserved, according to Ottawa 2017 media relations manager Denise LeBlanc. Meanwhile, more than 15,000 people had visited between Sunday and Thursday.

The public’s positive response to Kontinuum was welcome news to Moment Factory’s multimedia director Yael Braha.

“That, to me, is the best reward,” she said by phone from Montreal (she had just returned there after spending more than a month in Ottawa setting up the show).

Working in the unfinished, underground future home of an LRT station was a unique opportunity and pushed the creative team to create a show that would evoke the LRT and its significance to the city, she said. The concepts of travel, journey and the station as a future hub of connection for people were also part of their thinking.

And, of course, making the experience interactive was crucial.

Upon entering the theatre, visitors can have their body scanned (not by X-rays) to determine its frequencies and what colour that frequency is. A screen inside the theatre can then project a hologram of the scan onto the train as it arrives in the station, and visitors can later download it right onto their phone with the Ottawa 2017 app.

“People love, love, love being part of it,” Braha said.

A team of about 80 people at Moment Factory worked on the project, while a crew of 30 installed it.

Braha credited Ottawa 2017, the O-Train Construction office and the Rideau Transit Group, the city’s LRT contractor, for being so cooperative. “It’s not just the work of one person.”

Originally from Rome, her skills and training in graphic design, moving images and sculpture made her a multimedia triple-threat when she moved to Montreal specifically for a job at Moment Factory, which was co-founded by Sakchin Bessette, a graduate of Lowertown’s De La Salle high school.

The production has a few other Ottawa connections — the music, which shifts from zen-like lounge vibes to throbbing beats to swelling strings, was composed by Vincent Letellier and the lighting was designed by Ian MacDonald.

Organizers didn’t release the full inventory of tickets right away because they wanted to see how long it would take people to go through Kontinuum, which begins inside the old Place de Ville movie theatre off Sparks Street, leads visitors around to the station’s eastern entrance off Queen Street and down to the platform level. At the end, the audience exits via an escalator that leads to the Lyon station entrance on the southwest corner of Queen and Lyon.

The entire experience involves walking about 500 metres and takes about 30 minutes to complete (security and volunteers are on hand to keep people moving).

Now that they know how long most people take to complete it, LeBlanc said Ottawa 2017 has increased the daily capacity so more people can go through. Organizers are also encouraging walk-ups, in addition to the online reservations.

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