Montrealers aren’t afraid to speak their minds—especially when there’s creativity involved. The recent Megaphone interactive installation provided an outlet for citizens to get their voices heard—and their words projected—onto buildings in the downtown core. The city’s next up-and-coming avenue for self-expression is equally unconventional, replacing microphones with “hacked bikes.”
Agit POV (Petit Objet de Velo, or “Little Bike Object”) is a collaborative micro-project developed by artists Mariangela Aponte Nunez, Alexandre Castonguay,Thomas Ouellet Fredericks, and Sofian Audry.
Since its debut in 2012 the project has spread to many cities, including Montreal, Toronto, Bruxelles, Manizales Colombia or Tunis, all with one thing in common: the need for a new method of self-expression.
Agit POV situates itself somewhere between urban poetry and optical art, and draws inspiration from Agitprop, the propaganda of the Soviet avant-garde. Technically, it utilizes the movement of a bike wheel during transit and the concept of persistence of vision, the phenomena by which an afterimage is still visible to the eye one-twenty-fifth of a second on the retina, to make its bike optical art possible.
Agit POV’s first step is an artist-assisted DIY workshop where participants create their own LED circuit. This is also the moment to decide what message the screen should flash when powered. Thanks to an Arduino system, participants program their message into the hardware, and the micro-controller establishes the link to the LED circuit. Powered by the pedaling motion of the bike, the LEDs will display the chosen message along the rim of the wheel, one letter at a time. A simple nighttime bike ride could leave a message behind, transforming an otherwise banal trajectory into a discursive, illuminated promenade.
As a participatory project, Agit POV depends on you--and it’s up to your discretion whether your message is serious or silly, banal or subversive.
If you’d like to participate in the next Agit POV workshop, there will be one help at the Eastern Bloc new media art center this Saturday, November 2nd. A second one will be carried out this May during the Sight & Sound festival.
Below, check out some of the gorgeous patterns created during the last workshop: