Il y a

The IL Y A double-sided video, 12-channel sound installation, mixes live video from its two sides so you see through its opaque wall as if it were a glass window. IL Y A transforms what you see of the other side: your gesture transmutes the other, conjures the other’s body. Your movement distends what you see of the other side like smoke or other pseudo-physical material. The effect is symmetrical – any movement by the other reshapes your image as well. Over time, the behavior of the installation changes through a field of behaviors staged by the composer, according also to the activities of its visitors.

Figures from the past appear in place of visitors who leave the opposite side, and their movements transmute your image as yours transmutes theirs, via real-time calligraphic video and sound effects. Moving bodies from the past act on your image just as you act on theirs. Since the effect is symmetrical, the living self and its historical or present others can play with the forms of each other’s bodies with equal power. When no one at all is in the room, the membrane mixes documentary footage of the populated site, in testimony to that place’s historical past.


Portable and re-usable with video footage referencing the local site’s history, IL Y A is designed to be installed in museums and galleries as well as community spaces or former industrial sites, localized with images from the sites’ historical archive. IL Y A acts as a lens into past as well as the present of the given site, and explores how the past can entangle the living present, or how living bodies entangle each other.



This double-sided video screen, with 12 audio channels and 2 cameras, is designed for museum and gallery exhibition. The physical installation, designed by Scott Minneman, is a rigid, opaque board mounted in a rigid aluminum frame, with 5’ x 7’ footprint, and 8’6” height. Each side has one video projector beaming an image onto that side. The projector clears the head of any visitor.

It’s weight (excluding computer gear in flight cases) is 200 lbs, and can be shipped in a wheeled, wooden crate: 88″ x 39″ x 74″ tall. (Total shipping weight: about 400 lbs.)


Sha Xin Wei, artistic direction, programming
Harry Smoak, technical direction & installation support
Jean-Sebastien Rousseau, visual programming (2010)
Tyr Umbach, visual programming (2011)
Michael Fortin, computer graphics, physics (2009-2012)
Navid Navab, realtime sound
Julian Stein, realtime sound

Thanks also to Freida Abtan, Erik Conrad, Delphine Nain, Yoichiro Serita


FQRC Fonds de rechereche sur la societé et la culture.