Nuit Blanche 2008….Toronto celebrates the Arts/Artists.

Once again Toronto celebrated Nuit Blanche this past weekend (October 04-05). I did not go to last years event, but had attended the very first one (best one thus far IMHO) in 2006. Although the event this year went without a hitch, there were a lot of intoxicated people on the streets and the whole atmosphere was different than first year. From what I understand, news sources are reporting 1,000,000 people. I don’t know about you, but that was seriously pushing the capacities of some of the events/venues.

I went downtown around 8:00 PM with Camera and tripod in tow and after seeing the see of people at dundas square decided to get a coffee from the nearby Tim Hortons and chill in my office at Ryerson — just next door. Well timmies was packed, one untrained cashier trying to please 15-20 people in line, I gave up. Next I dropped my gear off in the office and decided to head over to the New/Old Metro (Dominion) on gould street. Nuked some pasta and wolfed down some chocolate — figuring the sugar should help keep me awake. I went outside again around 9:30 PM and noticed that Ryerson exhibits were still drowning in people…..back to the office to watch the latest Indiana Jones.

Back out around midnight, well the scene had changed. Less people/kids, more intoxicated teens/tweens, but now it was easier to navigate the streets and exhibits. I decided to start with Katherine Lannin’s “House of Leaves” installation since it was close. Due to the line up I decided to go to where people were exiting and took a couple of snaps. Pretty neat installation, but very busy even at midnight.


The House of Leaves, (a title partly inspired by the fictional book under the same name written by author, Mark Z. Danielewski) is an installation made of thousands of pages from books torn from their binding and fixed to the outer walls of two buildings located at Ryerson University Campus (sandwiched between the Student Campus Centre and O’Keefe House).

Lannin transforms this walkway asking us to reinterpret how we think about public space. The pages completely consume the space transforming it into an ethereal cave like structure.

Passing through the installed work pedestrian traffic stirs and ruffles the pages; an effect that imbues the space with the sense that it is a living organism, a fiction itself, created by other fictions.


Next came the Devonian Square and Annick Mitchell and Sholem Dolgoy’s Sitting Ducks installation, except that (again) people totally ignored the fact that this was a ART INSTALLATION and (some) started “duck hunting”. Now maybe the artist didn’t care, or even encouraged it, don’t know. What I do know is that a lot of those ducks got taken pre-maturely.

Be part of nature in the city and visit the ducks of Devonian Pond – located in the heart of the Ryerson University campus. For one night only, the live ducks that traditionally visit the pond will be replaced by hundreds of environmentally friendly man-made ducks – bedazzled with light and playfullly moving throughout the water.

Adventurous and more serious duck enthusiasts can try their hand at ‘hunting’ specially marked ducks behind an unusually equipped duck blind. Just how far has the man/nature discourse really come? Even if you aren’t a hunter, this will definitely be a supernatural urban experience.


I then made my way through the crowd and ended up watching the end of Jonathan Aitkens “Dislocation” show. Very impressive, but sadly my images came out blurry. I skipped the installations inside Heaslip House — it was a zoo in there — and took some pictures from Arpad Szoke’s Sculptural Installation, “Polly”, in front. The Strobe light was acting like a big magnet for the crowds, and it took a while to find a spot to plunck down my tripod.


I then walked over to Dundas Square to see if I could grab a image that screamed “Fifteen Seconds” and I think I got it.


Daniel Olson’s work, “Fifteen Seconds”, is inspired by Andy Warhol’s famous dictum, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” From a small guard tower equipped with a follow spot – a familiar scenario appearing in countless films – Olson will highlight certain people, transforming them into instant celebrities. In this performance everyone is offered the chance to have their moment of fame, as they make their grand entrances and exits. “Fifteen Seconds” plays with our often simultaneous and conflicting desires for attention, security and privacy. While some may enjoy the limelight, for others this attention may coincide with our greatest insecurity, vulnerability and isolation.

_MG_7047_48_49_50_51 (Tone Compressed)

Next on the agenda was Sam the Record Man’s Sign. You see I’d always wanted to photograph it, but for some reason or other didn’t. Then Sam went under and the sign was turned off for what seemed like forever. Well, although it wasn’t in the official program, Ryerson (the new owners of the buildings) decided to turn the signs on one more time before they get taken down and stored starting tomorrow (October 06). THANKS!!!! :-).


Zombies were next on the list with Jillian McDonald’s “Zombies in Condoland”. Although I missed the initial “ceremonies”, just as I was about to leave, I caught the tail end of the Zombies march. Man these people were scaaarryyy :-). I specially love the look of the dude with glasses….priceless.


Zombies in Condoland is a series of night actions that mimic a film screening set for a low-budget horror film such as the type made famous by George Romero whose latest film, “Diary of a Zombie”, was filmed in Toronto.

Anyone can participate and be a zombie. Zombies are encouraged to come in character – nurse zombie, business person zombie, geek zombie, sports zombie. They are encouraged also to do their makeup en route, in cafes, bars, and mass transit. There will also be make-up tents and zombie clothing available on site.

The best shot of the night — atleast as far as framing/timing goes — was the following. Too bad I did not have my 1DMKII camera body with me. The 5D’s focusing was just not fast enough to keep up.


I then decided to leave the undead alone and walked up Elizabeth Street to check out Adam Brown’s Video Installation — “Time Piece”.

In “Time-Piece”, Adam David Brown has produced a sequence of images that show the moon moving through its 27 different phases, from new moon to crescent to full moon and back again. Time has been compressed so that we can observe all the phases of the moon in a relatively short period of time rather than spread out over the length of a month. “Time-Piece” will appear much larger than if it were observed in nature, giving us an opportunity to look at the moon in a way that we never have before; a larger, faster moon, revealing itself to us again and again, steadily rising and falling.


Right next door was Roy Kohn’s multimedia installation — Meeky. I figured the line up was just too long to waste time at 2:30 AM. Took a couple of pic’s of the crowd and left.


I then got on the subway at Queen’s Park station and headed south to Queen station to check out Fujiwara Takahiro’s beautiful “Into the Blue” Sculpture. For a change I was able to get close and also noticed that the crowds were dying down slowly. I was finally starting to enjoy the events.


Fujiwara Takahiro’s “Into the Blue” is a giant, illuminated, transparent cone-shaped balloon. Its shape is achieved through the stacking of inflatable donut-shaped soft acrylic tubes of successively diminishing sizes. Floating in the middle of the Eaton Centre, “Into the Blue” will present two distinct faces. From a distance, it will reflect and refract the surrounding light. Up close, one will be able to walk beneath the work and experience it as an environment. Looking up into the interior will present a dazzling light array, refracted through the complex layers of soft acrylic material.


Next on the list was Domaine de l’angle #2, 2008 over at Massey Hall, a short hop away from Eaton Centre. I personally thought that this was the coolest installation of all. You know you’ve done something right when almost every single teenager — and some adults as well — are wondering “Where is the Art?”. Man some people are just too dense. Thanks BGL ;-).


The Quebec City-based art collective BGL is known for installations that take over architecture and wryly comment on institutional space. BGL will construct a 40 metre long drop ceiling in the alley of St. Enoch’s Square beside Massey Hall, framing the dumpsters, recycling bins and other life of the alleyway in the cool fluorescent light of the modern office.


Next up, Distillery District. I got on Kings street’s Blue line and started exploring the galleries. Lots of neat stuff here, too bad it was getting a bit late (4:00 AM).


I met a group of artists there for whom I have no information, but all I can say is….FILM Heaven…..Ahhhh, nothing like a EIKI mono speaker “chirping” through the otherwise silent night.


That was magic. I took a bunch of pics here, which was located right beside the Balzac Coffee place. At this point the Neurons were having problem firing, so I decided to get a coffee. But my luck, Balzac’s had just closed….Hmmmm, okay more sugar…..couple of Twix bars.


I left Gooderham and Worts totally satisfied and high on sugar at around 5:00 AM grabbed the first street car at 5:30 AM and came back downtown. Got off at Yonge and King and walked up to City Hall to check out the Stereoscope, a Project Blinkedlights installation from Berlin, Germany. But before that I just had to have a Hotdog as I was getting pretty hungry. Let me tell you there is nothing like an old, leathery hotdog first thing in the morning (6:00 AM I think).


Stereoscope is an interactive light installation at Toronto City Hall. This installation by the German group Project Blinkenlights transforms the landmark towers into a huge display screen by arranging lamps behind each of the 960 windows of the building. From dusk till dawn, the façade will serve as an ever-changing and evolving kaleidoscope of graphic animations automatically generated and interactively orchestrated. The public can influence “Stereoscope” through a variety of interfaces including smartphones, the web and physical controllers located at Nathan Phillips Square.

In 2001, Project Blinkenlights became famous in Berlin as the first large-scale interactive media that could be controlled by a simple mobile phone. The project that later became known as “Blinkenlights” spawned a follow-up installation of even greater dimensions and scope at the Blibiothèque Nationale de France in Paris, France. Project Blinkenlights develops all technology on its own. The computer software used to run this project is published under an open-source license.


I spent a bit of time wondering the square until I found the ramp to the (supposedly) restricted terrace. The crowds were down to a handfull of people and it was great to just sit on the floor and absorb the blinkie lights in (almost) silence.

It was 6:30’ish AM and the sun was coming out soon so I decided to go to the other side of the square and take a picture of the fountains.


By the time I walked over to University and Queen it was about 7:30 AM and I was in no mood to ride the subway — which turned out to be closed until 9:00 AM — so I grabbed a cab and came home to my wonderful BED :-).

Hopefully next year there will be more people going around with questions like “Where is the art? Can you see the Art?” and such. That to me means….mission accomplished….Art is working. People start to THINK…..what a novel idea :-). At this point please remember — specially now with elections coming up — without art, we might as well start peeling bananas and banging coconuts on rocks. Thanks for hanging in there and see you all next year.

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One response to “Nuit Blanche 2008….Toronto celebrates the Arts/Artists.”

  1. WOW, GREAT SHOTS. Love the story boarding with the photos. Thank you for sharing!

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