Nuit Blanche in TO:Picked to become a Pan

Toronto served up Nuit Blanche on the last weekend in September 2007. This was the second year of an event that got started in 2007. The premise is simple – sponsor artshows and happenings throughout downtown Toronto at various museums, galleries, and public venues. Generate carriage trade. Scotiabank was again the sponsor this year

And again the weather co-operated very nicely with Indian Summer warm weather even at night. In fact there was a near full moon flirting with various layers of cumulus clouds in a dance of the veils that did not fail to capture the the attention of many a Nuit Blanche voyageur – credit a touch of divine creative intervention.

Creativity has so many definitions from story telling through making the strange look plausible or explainable to making the familiar look strange, enchanting – to be perceived in a new way. And by running from 7:00PM dusk to 7:00AM early dawn Nuit Blanche brought people to familiar places and gave them a new look and a sense of other possibilities such as the ROM’s Crystal frontispiece or the undulating curves of The Main Library seen in semi darkness. Strange new possibilities and beauties

libat at night
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Toronto Main Library Night Forms

And on the creative obverse, suddenly OCAD’s Classrooms on stilts were nifty and effective as the roof for a series of displays and 3D animation shows. Likewise just walking by the Malabar Studios, a bit further down from OCAD on the way to Queen, cast the bizarre and soapish as just right this Night. In fact I was torn between the aluminized cornfield, the Last Supper staging, and the Malabar windows as best of show.

Once you got to Queen street the full Monte was on – Nuit Blanche met the regular Friday night nite-clubbers, co-mingling with obvious creative relish or first time “charmed”. There were several establishments along Queen’s winding breadth dressed to the nines; just like the KitKat clubbers. Nothing attracts like emulation. And Sciotiabank seemed to determine to find this out at their various way stations. They were a bit short on what was happening but not shy about asking Nuit Blanchers to take yet another survey.

And here is what this party would have said if the survey questioners had asked me less about my income and spending intentions and more about what I thought of the Nuit Blanche:
Yes – this night has been a success. I have delighted in seeing things as novel as the Main Library lighted up in strange ways at night – shades of Old City Hall painted for the Cavalcade of Lights in novel French hues this past December. Or the UofT’s Varsity field all lit up for a Friday evening soccer match – a slightly other-worldy look to intramural sport yet probably available as regular Friday night fare- but I took it as having a Nuit Blanche blush.
Yes – I saw the otherwise remote/strange galleries of Yorkville brought to light in new ways.
Yes – one could not help feel the energy of Queen Street clubbing as the nite at 1am was still young.
No – I did not see a really creative site; something that could sustain interest for many years to come. For example, at the Main Library it would be fascinating to hear some passages from a classic book or just someone’s poetry projected into the recesses and caverns of the main foyer with strategically placed speakers and lighting. Perhaps the added light show following the spoken words would elicit brighter or darker lights, greater or lesser volume – more basso, or not? But it would be an audience customized entertainment. Very sustaining of curiosity and interest.
No – I did not see at the Bata Shoe Museum – the Whats Under Foot display. Where couples step into various colored pigments of their choice that they then walk, dance, tiptoe and other wise leave their footmarks across a paper canvas. The canvas starts anew every half hour, and the creative possibilities are endless. A picture of the various Walk-on Canvas’ is projected onto the ceiling of the museum. I would come to the Bata anytime they put on that show!
No-I did not see at any of the Scotibank stations, ROM or any of the Yorkville Galleries offering Nuit Blanchers an Images de Nuit Blanche Wailing wall. A place where their digital pictures could be downloaded and then projected on a giant screen showing people what pictures and images hadbeen taken by and therefore attracted others. This would require a good image gallery DJ – but the various camera clubs like TGPA_Toronto Guild of Photographic Artists and TCC-Toronto Camera Clubbers have the skills to put together superb instant slideshows with sound, poetry, or musical interludes.
No- profit taking, rather the images used would be shared and any subsequent sales would go to an appropriate charity;
No – I did not see OCAD, which definitely has the skills, getting its Nuit Blanchers to participate in creative exercises. Perhaps a giant paper mache’ creation with posted photos of the evolving creation. Or perhaps a rocks, fabric and wood sculpture garden that changes like the Bata Museum, every half hour, starting a new. Again picture posts of what had happened through the night as rocks, fabric wood and plastic are used to build a sculpture by the stream of visitors. Perhaps an OCAD mentor to get the sculpture started on the hour – then the peoples work starting at the half hour. Then again, perhaps a simple display of relative color projected on to various screens and fabrics – with the play of shadows from various masks. An exercise in Lighting Design that the Opera or National Ballet might want to participate in.

So in general Nuit Blanche was again a success – because it did elementary creative things – make the strange suddenly familiar, making the familiar seem strange and enchanting in new ways. But this formula will wear off. Nuit Blanche will become Panned Night and awfully soon if the exhibit does not inject some novel creative participation at its various venues. And I can see Sony, Nikon, Bay Bloor Radio, the Academy of Graphics, Ryerson, and many other only too anxious to help for the one-night only booths required to make the creative experience a learning experience. Now the trick will be to make the advertising discrete and the learning experience paramount. Good luck ScotiaBank.

See thetheFollowing Coverage of Nuit Blanche here:

Pix of Toronto – Nuit Blanche at Toronto’s Main Library

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