Sunday, September 30, 2012

Nuit Blanche Toronto, 2012

The "all-night arts thing" is no longer "all-night" in my mind.  I've gotten so fed up in past years with exhibits closing early that we no longer plan to stay out all night.  I noticed in the NB guide this year that one site even advertised its hours ending at 6:00 AM.  But we no longer have an urgent need to see as much as possible - and it's impossible to see it all anway.

One thing becomes clearer every year:  we need to consider shutting down the entire core for this event.  A lot of main streets had portions closed, including Yonge, Bay, and King.  It wasn't enough.  I'm not being selfish here:  I'm acknowledging the reality of the situation.  Past midnight, I waited at Queen and University for my sister, who was coming from one of the exhibits at the Gladstone.  She opted to walk part way because the streetcars were so jammed, and it took about 20 minutes for her cab to make it from Bathurst to University.  I watched the chaos as I waited:  people spilling off the too-narrow sidewalks, masses of pedestrians overtaking the intersection and blocking cars on the green signal, streetcars moving at a crawl, cars struggling to find a better alternate route (there are none).  You can tell that people have never been to NB when they are trying to wheel bicycles through the crowd.

I looked back at last year's NB post and was reminded of the discussion of our city's mayor.  That was completely absent this year.  I have heard no discussions of our mayor in relation to NB, and saw no mention of him in the artwork.  With each new scandal, he is becoming increasingly irrelevant to this city and its life and function.  Last night, a million people took to the streets to celebrate the arts and enjoy our city.  We did so without our mayor, despite him, and to spite him.

On with the show...

(Click on photos to enlarge)

NB gets top marks for these information displays, which were posted at a number of points throughout the core.  Easy to find and read, and lots of people were clearly making use of them.  Not so helpful were the guidebooks with the 150 installations numbered in no apparent order and not properly indexed.


Push in a big black dot and one pops out somewhere else.

Ryerson Image Centre

We wanted to see the inside of this new building, but right from the beginning of the night it was lined up.  Our rule this year was:  no waiting in line-ups.  So we moved on and amused ourselves with the light display on the outside.

With a smart phone, you can manipulate the lights:


This was interesting: the sculpture looks sort of like it's painted, but the colour is being projected on.  It changes regularly and includes moving images.

Suddenly colourless:


These figures (at their home base inside the Eaton Centre north food court) were to be taken outside by volunteers and passed around.  NB attendees were invited to move them around, take photos, and post them to help document the figures' movement through the night.  We saw a number of them through our travels.

Vertical Constructions:  Dancer #1 and #2

Eaton Centre's vast exhibition capabilities were underused this night.  Boring.

Switchyard Studio, Button Happy

I love pushing buttons.  I loved that the buttons used in this installation were the same heavy-duty buttons used on arcade video game machines.

Once Upon a Time

Projections on the back of City Hall.

We came across masses of people entering the City Hall parking garage, which, it turned out, held the Museum for the End of the World, which included several separate installations on this theme.  Down we went...

Museum of the Rapture

Douglas Coupland won the award for best in show in our books.  We loved this, and the City Hall parking garage was really put to good use.

Note how well-matched the road signs are to the chapter titles:

Descending down the Bay Street ramp into the garage, which would have been more than a bit eerie were it not for the thousands of people pouring in alongside...

These posters were brilliant.  My favourite part of the show and probably the highlight of the night.

The rapture has begun...

Three scenes accompanied by zombie performers:

Pile of candy.  The best thing about this was that it had its own security guard.

The Vault

I found the images at the bottoms of the mirrored tubes to be quite uninteresting, but the reflections they created made for some stunning visuals - especially in the dark.

Ou Topos

An abandoned Starcraft camper is found in the garage.  A museum is set up to show off the artifacts within.

Quasar 2.0:  Star Incubator

Postcards from the End

Dirty Loonie

Brilliant political commentary

End of the museum, and back outside, where we found...


World Without Sun

Pretty, although like Eaton Centre, I found Nathan Phillips Square to be underused this year.

Flat Space

Lovely display on Bay Street.

The Way Things Are

These lampposts were fantastic, and would make wonderful permanent installations.

All Night Convenience

Huge line-up, but luckily we could see enough from the outside to enjoy it.

Mystery installation!  No mention of this anywhere.


Three people continually solve Rubiks Cube.  This was a sound installation;  the performers have a sleeve mic and the sound is supposed to be broadcast.  NB organizers get a failing grade and a slap with a wet noodle for this one:  a nearby food stand or attraction was blasting music all night, so the effect of this installation was entirely lost.  Bah!


This projection, on a wall outside Commerce Court, fades in and out continually.

Water Will Be Here

Another line-up to pass by, except from what we could see, it was just as easy to appreciate from the outside.

Liquid Cohesion

The vast size of this pool makes it hard to appreciate video projections onto the water from ground level.  A woman wades slowly through the pool in gum boots.  Next.


Pleasant.  Complements the Calatrava atrium well, but also gets lost a bit.

GO - Art Train

Not a NB exhibit, but GO took advantage of the night to display their Art Train and welcome the public in to see it.  Almost no one was there, as it wasn't well enough publicized.  But we had a nice stopover and chat with the two women who were posted there to welcome the public and engage them on transit issues.


This was simply fun to watch.

Every year there seems to be more people who take advantage of the night to simply get out and do their own thing - from attention-getters (second year I've seen Dean, who cycles or walks around with lights all over his body) to businesses promoting themselves to, apparently, people who want to do their own art for art's sake.

This couple had plunked down right in the middle of the street.  The light-up birds were attractive.

Invisible Streams:  As Above, So Below

Attractive, although it appeared a big part of the installation had burnt out or become unplugged.

Green Invaders

Another favourite!  Who doesn't like Space Invaders?

One of the dozens of individual invaders, unlit:

And the whole set:

High Water

Something lost in execution here, I think.  There are fans and running water to add some movement, but they weren't having any effect.  The entire thing was static.


Watch plants grow!  I was kind of amazed at the number of people who were sitting in the grass just watching quietly.


Graffiti made of icing sugar!  This was very cool.

This guy was the winner in our minds.


This was one of those exhibits I read about in the guide in advance, when trying to plan my evening, and I had figured it would be more interesting in person.  Nope.  It was exactly as pictured and described in the guide.

The Evening News (small craft warnings)

Fun idea!  Submit your disaster report in writing or by phone and two DJs report it on air from their broadcast booth in Berczy Park.  They should have been stationed at the City Hall garage, though.

High-Five Championship

Just as it sounds:  couples compete in a contest of high-fiving skill.

Called it a night before anything could close early and piss me off!  So there!

Had a good time and no one got killed despite all the drunken, crowded, wall-to-wall, curb-to-curb craziness.  Looking forward to 2013.