The Pearl Divers. A musical pavement that brings to life an old emirati tradition

Daily tous les joursCanada

Engaging, Expressing, Optimizing

Production / Professional


Creative direction: Mouna Andraos, Melissa Mongiat; Technological Direction: Eva Schindling; Sound Direction: Michael Baker; Narrative environment: Anne Ouellette; Environment Design: Rebecca Taylor; Interactive Direction: Pierre Thirion; Art Direction: Dina Khalil; Production: Irene Chaudouet, Anastasia Starova; Industrial Design: Studio Dikini; Original Soundtrack: Radwan Ghazi Moumneh; Electrical Design: CEGA; External Production: Wireframe; On-site Production: XYZ; Fabrication
: Atelier B, Atelier Papineau; Assembly: Caroline Ariane Bergeron, Thibault Desmoulin, Jérémy Dumont, Anne Kierans, Stephen McLeod, Marie-Jade Menni, Malcolm Remple; Video Shoot Direction:Kelly Nunes; Video Images: Blackmango Productions, Victorine Yok; Editing: Geoffrey Boulangé; Special thanks to: Farid Andraos, Emile Mongiat and Gehad Risk. Powered with MaxMSP, Arduino.


A pavement brings to life an old emirati tradition in a way that gets strangers to create music together. For centuries, Dubai fishermen made a living diving into the sea looking for pearls, known as the “local gold”.

Pearl Divers is an interactive plaza dotted with pearl-like sensors that play music with participant’s shadows. Paying tribute to this ancient tradition, passersby trigger original Bayati and Hijaz melodies, bringing magic and connection to the heart of an emerging neighbourhood.

Passers-by are invited to move their shadows over the sensors to trigger notes. Dawn or dusk, different melodies will be heard thanks to the movement of the sun changing the light throughout the day, transforming and stretching shadows, their orientation and intensity.

In the warmest areas of the world, the sun sets the pace of life. When cities become unliveable because of their scalding concrete, creating shaded areas in public spaces becomes a priority. The Pearl Divers show that another type of urban life is possible whatever the climate.

This project was designed to be inclusive of all people. By bringing music in public spaces, The Pearl Divers is an universal invitation to move the body and the mind, across barriers of cultures, languages, ages or origins. It was also designed for the street, a codified place where bodies move in a homogenous way and have little room for spontaneity. In this context, dancing becomes almost political, another universal language for people to feel a sense of freedom while also encouraging self-discovery.

The Pearl Divers is a permanent installation, embedded in the infrastructure and architecture of the city. It brings a new dimension to the plaza, stimulating the emergence of new gathering habits, and opportunities for people to move together, and take ownership of their public space.

After various workshops and public consultations, we learned about the difficult coexistence between humans and the harsh sun in numerous areas of the world. In climates such as Dubaï’s, people seek shadows to protect themselves and have less opportunities to enjoy their public spaces. This tension informed our core concept: your own shadow would be the interaction interface to discover the work, embracing their reality.


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