Nuit Blanche in Toronto

Nuit Blanche

This art installation in the Distillery District asked visitors to record their secrets on little cards. The messages where allowed to float up, attached to helium balloons.

Secrets were also recorded using a low tech rotary telephone hooked up to a hidden recording device. Resulting messages were later broadcast for the world to hear, without revealing the identity of the person whispering the secret.

I enjoyed some of the outdoor displays: a deliberately disjointed band of electric guitar stranglers, moving projections on the smoke stack, TV dinners watching black-and-white TV shows projected onto buildings using old-fashioned projectors. It was fine but I wasn't expecting too much. The Distillery District is a chi chi area filled with commercial galleries. I saw some nice pottery and some photography and paintings, but nothing edgy. Next year I want to go to OCAD and see what wild stuff the students are up to.
The most interesting piece I saw in the Distillery District was an article, blown up and hung on the wall, of Marget Atwood's response to Stephen Harper's latest attack on the Arts in Canada. You might want to read
it for yourself.

I didn't visit the big Nuit Blanche displays. I spent most of the evening helping and watching at the Alumnae Theatre. They presented a short play of mine (twice!) as part of their all-night theatrical marathon. The "Alum" put on street theatre, story-telling in the upstairs studio space and the regularly scheduled play, Wit, in the main space. In the lobby, there were pieces which invited the audience to patronize the same coffee shop as the actors. I will never forget the heart-rending rendition of "I wish I were Johnny Depp's Jock Strap," sung by an extremely Emo patron/performer, planted in the audience.

Around 1:00 AM, the coffee shop morphed into a cyber cafe. I don't play World of Warcraft or Second Life, the games on which the concept was loosely based, but I did enjoy it as an interesting theatrical experiment. Visitors were able to watch sleep-deprived computer users and their cybernetic avatars functioning independently of each other, as if both could move and breathe in the real world. The avatars wore cute, shiny costumes. They interacted with each other and the public in a perky, slightly-stilted way. My favorite character was "Technical Support," a young lady with a clip board who wanted my credit card information when I asked if I could get my own avatar. My only regret is that I didn't take more pictures.