Nuit blanche 2012

Lost Rivers: La Petite St-Pierre

February 25, 2012 - 6:00 pm


DHC/ART in collaboration with the Phi Centre and the Mobile Media Lab presents:

Lost Rivers: La Petite St-Pierre

Curators: Kim Sawchuk and Jaimie Robson
With Cheryl Sim, Associate Curator for DHC/ART

Each year DHC/ART participates in Nuit blanche, this grand event that brings Montrealers together for a crazy night of discovery and urban exploration. This time once again, the DHC/ART team encourages you to battle the cold in order to warm up with us. In addition to presenting a major exhibition, Chronicles of a Disappearance, that presents the work of five internationally renowned artists, (along with hot coffee and cookies) we also offer a special activity created for this particular night:

Lost Rivers: La Petite St-Pierre is a two-part exhibition that ventures beneath the pavement to reveal one of this city’s most famous hidden waterways. Artists Andrew Emond and Samuel Thulin pay homage to the meandering contours of La Petite St-Pierre, a river that once stretched over 15 kilometers across the southern part of the island of Montreal. Their video projections and mobile soundscapes virtually “daylight” La Petite St-Pierre, exploring its integration into the network of this city’s sewers.

Begin your journey at DHC/ART. From there you will receive clues to discover the second part of the exhibition at the new Phi Centre!

Free admission


1. Download the Lost Rivers music route onto your mobile device either here or at DHC/ART. Don’t forget to bring your ear-buds or headphones!

2. Follow the illuminated ice lamps from DHC/ART to the Phi Centre. This is the first in a series of location-based exhibitions that will “virtually daylight” select Montreal rivers in relation to our four seasons. Daylighting is a process that unearths waterways that have been buried because of urbanization and the drive to modernization and development. Also, watch for Under the City, the forthcoming documentary film and interactive website/iPhone app.

3. An interactive version of the ‘music-route’ will also be available on site. Visitors interested in trying out the interactive version (RjDj) are encouraged to install the iPhone/iPad app, RjDj, ahead of time. An RjDj ‘scene’ created specifically for the Lost Rivers exhibition will be available for download in the DHC/ART Education Room.


Andrew Emond is a Montreal based photographer whose projects, primarily documentary in nature, examine the built environment. His work has appeared in numerous books, galleries and international publications. In 2006, he began photographing Montreal’s sewer system. Emond has chronicled his experiences on his website More of his work can seen at

Source Points
Since 2006, my work has involved covertly exploring Montreal’s network of sewers as a means to better understand how my city functions and how it has evolved. These sewers serve as conduits for human waste, but they also act as synthetic pathways for natural water—water that once flowed openly through Montreal via a far-reaching arrangement of creeks. These watercourses played a considerable role in the development of the city and while most have been diverted underground and removed from our collective awareness, they are still very much alive below us today.

Source Points reflects on the perpetual nature of water in the city and the transformation of its path from creek bed to sewer pipe. The first component, incorporating four windows situated at street level, is a digital recreation (or re-imagining) of the now-buried La Riviere Petite St-Pierre. It is a virtual reclamation of its water from the underground systems encapsulating it; a testimonial to both its disappearance and of its possible return.

The second component consists of four underground scenes, each illustrative of a particular era of sewer construction between 1874 and 1991. These photo/video hybrids attempt to highlight the constancy of water in spite of their static enclosures. I am positioned in the centre of each frame. There is no daylight anywhere here. All light is electric and controlled by my actions. My surroundings are equally manufactured, and while much of the liquid streaming past me stems from household and commercial waste, there also exists in it a significant portion of naturally occurring water, which will continue to flow regardless of our attempts to eradicate it.

Samuel Thulin is a musician, researcher, and media artist living in Montreal. His work explores the intersections of mobility, place, and sound, as well as the history of media and technology. He is a member of the Mobile Media Lab and a PhD candidate in the Communication Studies department at Concordia University.

River Flow, Sewer Flow, Street Flow
River Flow, Sewer Flow, Street Flow is a two-part sound exploration of Montreal’s former creek, the Petite St-Pierre, the sewer that has replaced it, and the streets adjacent to its initial path. The work begins with a ‘music route’, a movement both physical and musical, that takes the listener toward the now absent waterway. Composed entirely using field recordings of Old Montreal, streams in Quebec, as well as noises from within Montreal’s sewer system, the ‘music route’ blends and transforms these sounds, re-imagining the spatial organization and sonic materiality of the city. Exploring rhythms and resonances between natural watercourses and the built environment, both above and below ground, the music route invites listeners to imagine the multiple layers –immediate, invisible and forgotten – that define the path through Old Montreal and the history of the Petite St-Pierre.

In the second part, the aural architecture of the sewer system is brought to the surface. Sounds recorded outside the Phi Centre, including city workers pumping out a storm drain, are processed with samples of reverberation recorded within the tunnels below. Though the rushing water of the Petite St-Pierre is materially absent from the soundscape – its sound only imaginable among the echoes – the installation is premised on the flowing stream and the possibility of its recreation. Its intention is to offer a meditation on both the layered spaces that now take its place and the potential of their reorganization.


Photo: Andrew Emond