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Life Underground

Life Underground, created and directed by Hervé Cohen, is a co-production of ©La Huit & BelleMoon, inviting visitors on a journey into the subways of the world through the personal stories of passengers. The project has been developed as both an interactive web documentary and media art installation for museums and public spaces.

The installation is on view at the JW Marriott hotel, room 306, from March 9 to 14, 2018, in the framework of the SxSW Festival.

The project is supported by the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Houston.


The Life Underground installation captures over 13 vibrant transit environments through deeply personal passenger portrayals, cinematic travel sequences, and an original soundscape composed entirely from the raw sounds of subways.

Life Underground has relied upon the chance encounters and unexpected stories harvested during our wanderings through subways around the world. Hundreds of passengers have been filmed and their voices recorded since the inception of this project. Of those, over 50 have been edited for the Life Underground documentary experience.


4 large-scale displays (1920 x 1080, 120” diagonal) are installed at facing angles, creating the appearance of a staggered, illuminated passageway. Each of the screens runs an approximately 30-minute loop of original footage. The screens are installed so that more than one can be seen from any vantage point in the installation. This creates parallels and juxtapositions, allowing visitors to position themselves between strikingly similar yet vastly different visual and narrative environments and create opportunities for poetic collisions of sound and imagery.


Upon entering, visitors have opportunities for different levels of engagement. Walking through the space allows imagery and audio to weave in and out as visitors pass each display – a tapestry of faces and voices, like the bustling underbelly of a crowded subway. Exploring the space in this way captures small moments of many passenger stories, stringing together a new narrative with each step.

Benches in the space offer a more intimate opportunity for connection. Facing the projections and positioned beneath directed speakers, the benches offer prolonged opportunities for immersion. By choosing to sit, visitors travel with the passengers on screen, hear their stories, and become passengers themselves.

Exiting the installation, visitors feel as though they’ve traveled through something – touched upon the truth that the human experience, above all, is shared. Across continents, in all languages, in the most surprising places, our stories of life transition, friendship, love, and ambition, are the threads that connect us.

For more information: Life Underground website; SxSW Festival website