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Nuit Blanche photos

by Eva Amsen

Nuit Blanche was four weeks ago, but I’m reliving the days of having photos developed and printed by waiting so long to show the pictures.

Nuit Begins

I managed to check out most of the (sometimes inadvertently) science-themed exhibits, and liked some more than others.

Do Not Disturb was an anthropology project. Artist Skeena Reece sat in a semi-transparent teepee all night, and you could interact with her through various means of technology, but she was selective about which input to respond to. This is the tail end of her conversation with Toronto’s mayor David Miller. It’s hard to hear, but you can see how he is at a microphone outside of the tent, and she is projected on the screen. On the photo you can see how hard it was to look into the tent.

Do Not Disturb

12 Hours of Power was as disappointing as I feared it might be. The lights that were powered by the bikes were very faint. You could see people biking like crazy to produce a tiny bit of light. It was also very far out of the way from everything else.

12 hours of power
That little lamp in the middle of the picture is powered by the dark shadow cycling like mad.

Beautiful Light: 4 Letter Word Machine mentioned “DNA sequences” in the description, but all I saw were other random combinations of four letters. The words lit up for a very long time before changing. I waited a long time to see if it got any better, but that was it. (Last year the display at City Hall was much better, so I had some expectations!)

Beautiful Light?

The Vodka Pool drew enormous crowds. Inside the lobby of one of the downtown bank buildings was a huge puddle of vodka, to symbolize the volatile nature of money (volatile like evaporating alcohol). People left and right of me were commenting on how they wondered how it hadn’t yet all evaporated, or whether it would make it until morning. It was kind of pretty, and so big that the crowds added to it rather than formed an obstacle.

vodka pool

How to Win the Lottery was an all-night performance art piece. When I got there (between 11 PM and midnight) the performance was a lecture about numbers. I didn’t stay for the whole hour, because I was on a tight Nuit Blanche schedule, but there were some statistical facts, and interesting tidbits: certain number sequences have never been the winning numbers in any lottery anywhere. Lots of people play the sequence 123456 but it has never won. A few other sequences that are often picked have occurred far less often than statistically expected, which makes you wonder how “random” the lottery really is!


Through a Glass Darkly was also an all-night performance. To celebrate the International Year of Astronomy, the project focused on Galileo, macroscopic and microscopic science, and other geeky things. It was the only Nuit Blanche project that I’m aware of that was in part organized by scientists. I went to see the Super Flammable Babylonians’ performance at 3 AM. They sang vocal quartet pieces about planets and stars.

(After staying up all night and moving about the city in the dark, you tend to not notice anymore when your photos are underexposed…)

Right before I went home I dropped by the Ice Queen: Glacial Retreat Dress. It was, oddly, inside the Eaton Centre, right in front of Sears. The location at the late hour (5:30 AM at that point) made for a very weird performance. I think I would have liked this better if it was outside, in less of a mall-setting.

ice queen dress

My favourite Nuit Blanche performance ended up being a music-themed one. Massey Hall, a downtown concert venue and theatre, was itself turned into a musical instrument. Groups of about 70 people at a time were let inside to sit on the stage, and watch performers pluck giant piano strings that were strung between the balconies of the space. The acoustics of the performance space now became the internal acoustics of the body of the instrument. And because it was 5 AM and I was exhausted, it was all very surreal.


Sitting on the stage, listening to the performance

Obligatory “look, I was on stage at Massey Hall!” photo-op before the next group was herded in.


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