10 tips to get you through Nuit Blanche

Nuit Blanche 2013

Tonight is Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche in Toronto and they are celebrating it’s 8th year. If you have never been, It’s an amazing celebration of arts and culture in the city of Toronto, which takes place from dusk til dawn. I’ve basically participated every year (except fort last year when i was in Vancouver), in some fashion, either as a rogue photo booth, as well as an active viewer and it’s an awesome event. I thought I would share some random tips from a seasoned veteran on how to survive the night.

1. Charge your smartphone. Between taking pictures of all the installations and sharing them on your social networks, and texting your friends to find out where they are, you can easily drain your battery before your night is through. If you have a Mophie case or external battery, bring it along or at least bring your charging cord. Two years ago, I found myself plugged into a wall at a random building behind city hall at 3 in the morning, that short stop definitely extended my sharing power that night.

2. Turn off your LTE or 3G on your phone. Using a lower data stream through the night will definitely extend your battery life. The one year, when I carried an empty frame through the streets of Toronto, doing a portrait photo series, I barely made it 12 hours, basically my phone died at 7am as I was taking my last shot at the north end of Trinity Bellwoods park.

3. Use the hashtag, it’s #snbTO. Definitely share your favourite installations and use the hashtag to track what everyone is loving. There is nothing worse than finding out you missed THE installation of the night, simply cause you didn’t know. The best places to follow the hashtag are on instagram and on twitter.

4. Take a nap. I usually try and see as much as I can in the night, so I start early and stay late. There have definitely been a couple of years, where I was getting back home as the sun was rising. Taking a nap this afternoon, will definitely help you get through the long night. If you are as dedicated as I am.

5. Start past midnight. Do you hate large crowds and long lines? Consider starting your Nuit Blanche adventure after midnight. It will give you a chance to follow along social media to see what everyone is talking about, and you can formulate a plan of attack. Often once 2am hits, the majority of the people start to head home. Lines are shorter or non existent and you definitely have more room to enjoy the art in a civilized manner.

6. Do a little bit of planning. The Nuit Blanche website has a lot of information on all the installations that are happening tonight. And there are plenty of guides online to get your started as well. Use this as a starting point, set your route and have fun.

Nuit Blanche 2013 from BlogTO
Your Guide to Nuit Blanche 2013 from Torontoist
10 not-to-be missed exhibits from the Huffington Post
19 incredible things from the Globe and Mail

7. Be Flexible. Yes I told you to plan, but be flexible enough to stray from your plan on a moments notice. It’s great to have a basic plan, but don’t stick your plan to a timeline set in stone. You will drive yourself crazy. Undoubtable you will read something on twitter about a must see installation. Or perhaps you will bump into friends and they will tell you about the most amazing thing that they have seen that night. The worst is arriving at an installation to discover that there is a 2 hour wait. Be flexible, stray off your path, or decide to come back to busy installations after 2am.

8. Comfort and Well being. This should go without saying, but wear comfortable shoes, you are undoubtably going to be doing a lot of walking. Dress for the weather, it looks like the rain isn’t coming until 6am, but you never know. Pack a water and multiple snacks. You are gonna get hungry.

9. Getting Around. Likely you are going to be doing a lot of walking, The best way to get around is likely have a bike to get your from one end of the city to the other (don’t forget your lights and helmet) and of course there is “the better way,” the TTC who is offering a special Nuit Blanche branded metro pass

10. Follow me. Okay this last one is self serving, but I will be taking photos and sharing them on tumblr and instagram throughout the night. And I’ll be tweeting @photojunkie all the latest as I come across it. So join me virtually.


Most of all have fun, be courteous, become a part of the art and not just a viewer of it.

What are your tips to surviving Nuit Blanche?

Nuit Blanche 2011

When asked to recap Nuit Blanche the next morning it often comes to me like an impressionist painting to an artist–I remember the colours, the gist, and the movement, but the factual detail is blurry.  A free all-night contemporary art event that is sponsored by Scotiabank, Nuit Blanche runs from 6:59PM to sunrise (approximately 7AM). In full discretion, I have never made it past 4AM, not because of exhaustion but mostly because of the cold.  Many people complain about the disorganization of the (free) event–but are we really in a position to complain (most likely on free services such as Facebook or Twitter) about it? Sure, there is room for improvement. Perhaps Nuit Blanche is the opportunity that lands on our door step, allowing us to take matters into our own hands.

There were two very distinct events / exhibitions that I visited this year that left an inspirational imprint:

1.  The Feast of Trimalchio (2009-2011) by EAS+F Group, Moscow, Russia.  This rotunda style exhibit featured 9 HD screens that enclosed the audience in an intimate outdoor setting.  Inspired by ‘Satyricon’ (by Gaius Petronius Arbiter), Trimalchio paints a vivid moving picture filled with 21st century luxuries and classist behaviours.  Unnaturally poetic, this three part piece is transformational and uncanny; allowing the audience to observe the translating roles of the ‘Masters’ and the ‘Servants’.  Visually,  Trimlachio is evocative of Renaissance paintings–the composition, the saturated colours, and the emphasis on the body and its surroundings.  The piece itself is quite erotic with an undeniable musical fluidity.

The Feast of Trimalchio is a modern masterpiece.

2.  The Gladstone Hotel never fails to impress me.  This year Fly By Night offered many performances, exhibits, and a good time.  The newly renovated Melody Bar was hopping with live music. Specifically, Lemon Bucket Orkestra kept the party going with its Eastern European tunes–they are a personal favourite gem that never fails to get the crowd riled up.

My favourite experience in the Gladstone was in Room 214.  As you walked up to the door two curtains blocked the door frame. You stood and waited. Suddenly, the curtains flew open and inside was a random group of people (fellow Nuit Blanche visitors) having a great time, happy to see you, and dancing away to loud music.  This experience encapsulated the exact moment of a party entrance and how one feels when walking into a really great house party.  Room 214 was a party that you never wanted to leave.

What were some of your favourite Nuit Blanche moments?

Button Mash This: Chiptunes Orchestra at Nuit Blanche 2011

Over the past month or so, the rad ass members of The Royal Canadian Chiptunes Orchestra have been rehearsing for their performance at the Tiff Bell Lightbox as part of Toronto’s annual Nuit Blanche all-night art event. I am honoured to say that I’ve been playing with this amazing group of talented people and we’re all very excited to share our music. Our set consists mostly of awesome cancon covers which have been given the 8-bit treatment. I assure you fun will be had by all and noise will be made by as many as possible as we will be highly encouraging audience participation. To entice you further, here’s a teaser of what you might expect to hear from the night.

Sunglasses At Night (KidKulit Remix) by KidKulit

Aside from The Royal Canadian Chiptunes Orchestra, there will also be a ton of fantastic 8-bit musicians slotted throughout the entire evening right up until the early morning. Performers include Battle Lava, Deadbeatblast, .exe, Radius and Helena, Oxvylu, Cybernetic Orchestra, Freque, Awesome Force, Jeff the World, Starpilot, Tetris Hold’em, bossFYTE, DJ Finish Him, Press Start 2 Play, and Spell ‘n Math. Now, that’s a LOT of chiptunes!

The Music of the Video Game! is on from 7pm to 7am on Saturday, October 1, 2011. So if you plan on heading out for Nuit Blanche tomorrow night, why not find a way to squeeze in a stopover at the Tiff Bell Lightbox [Cinema 1] onto your art-roaming schedules. You won’t regret it!

Button Mash This: Chiptunes

Earlier this week, an open call for submissions was announced for a rather unique art piece at this year’s Nuit Blanche in Toronto. TIFF’s Gaming and New Media Think Tank members, in collaboration with Site 3 coLaboratory, are curating an event called The Music of The Video Game! Their applicant search varies from musicians to visualists, ranging in expertise from hobbyists to seasoned pros. The ambitious evening will include performances from the newly created Royal Canadian Chiptunes Orchestra in addition to large format video game visuals to be displayed on the Cinema 1 screen of TIFF Bell Lightbox. If you’re interested in contributing or participating, more details can be found here.

Needless to say, the mere thought of this awesomeness has me beside myself with excitement! And when I’m all hyped up, I like to share that joy. So here are my Top Three Chiptune Albums

UPDATED: Learn more about how this growing genre of music is created here.

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