21. Sep 2017

An enigmatic moment: the “Passage” light art installation in Montreal/CA.

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag
Photos: Serge Maheu

It is a bit ridiculous to try to imagine what it is like passing from life to death. As long as we are alive, we will never know what that feels like. Apart from the fact that whatever we envisage as the end of life as we know it depends heavily on our religious leanings, the culture we were born into, or where we consider our roots to be, and many other things as well. And yet humans have been envisaging the transition between life and death, and life after death, for centuries. Many people talk about walking towards bright, glowing light to get the “the other side” – perhaps the kind of light that featured in the light art installation “Passage”. Who knows?

“Passage” consisted of 20 circles of light and a sound system, forming a tunnel through which visitors to the Illuminart 2017 event in Montreal at the beginning of the year were welcome to walk through, more or less in a trance. Artist Serge Maheu’s tunnel of light installation was an immersive, contemplative and interactive artwork.

Anyone moving through the tunnel had the opportunity to lose themselves in deep contemplation, exploring the emotional connections we develop with light and sound, or simply enjoy the experience in a playful way. The concept of the artwork was rooted in the definition of the word passage itself: the act of moving through or past something on the way from one place to another, and also the process of transition from one state to another in a temporal dimension. The light art installation was a lighthearted reference to the enigmatic moment between life and death. And to depict this, and support the intended experience, the artist used light.

We cannot truly imagine what the transition between worlds that awaits us is really like, and accounts of near-death experiences do not help either. But we like to presume that when our soul of spirit drifts through different dimensions it will be accompanied by protective and somehow soothing light. Especially since light defines the rhythm of our lives from day one.

Commissioned by: Illuminart

Artwork: Serge Maheu (concept, design, programming and audio production)

Construction and realisation: Serge Maheu and Félix Ménard, in collaboration with Christelle Deforceville and Stéphane Maheu



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