Nomi Drory

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Mixing Toronto

A Collaborative Interactive Video Installation Created for Nuit Blanche 2014

Mixing Toronto is a multi-media site-specific collaborative project I helped to initiate for Nuit Blanche 2014. Throughout the festival night of Saturday, October 4th, we transformed the windows of the Sanderson Branch of the Toronto Public Library into a contemporary urban canvas. With linking and contrasting video projections, shadow dance performances, and live-action drawings, we revealed and celebrated the multilayered cultural and architectural diversity of Toronto neighbourhoods.

 

 

Viewing of the Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst.

 

The project evolved from a conversation I had with my son, Dan Drory-Lehrer, an all-ages concert producer and music promotor, and founder of Johnnyland, an arts company operated by and for youth. I then involved members of the Spring Collective, a multimedia art collective, comprised of four different women from four different continents, Along with me, the collective includes: mixed-media artist Lulu Ladrón de Guevara, multi-media artist Shirin Divanbeigi and photographer Christine Peterson. As well, communication designer and visual artist Emily Kouri and editor Konrad Skreta played a key role in bringing the project to fruition.

 

 

Viewing of Eaton Centre and Honest Eds, part of the Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst.

 

To begin, members of the Spring Collective rented a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 digital camera. Working in pairs, we travelled about the city, shooting five-minute videos in different public locations. We mounted the camera on a tripod, keeping it at a uniform height and allowing the camera lens to capture the particular flow and buzz of urban life in each locale. Sometimes we planned our shoots with a preconceived goal in mind; at other times, we captured footage spontaneously as we went about our daily lives. As the project progressed, we posted the footage on a common web account, which allowed us to brainstorm and develop ideas.

 

 

Drawing part of Mixing Toronto video projection and drawing installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst.

 

The video installation was designed to be viewed from the street. On the night of Nuit Blanche, we lined with Mylar the inside of four sections of the Sanderson Library’s north-facing windows, fronting onto Dundas Street. From inside of the library, we projected two videos at once onto the Mylar-lined glass, pairing and juxtaposing them according to various criteria to highlight similarities and/or contrasts — architectural, political, social, and cultural. We projected, for example, the arch of the Canadian National Exhibition’s Prince’s Gate alongside Gerrard and Broadview’s Zhong Hua Men (“Chinese Arch”). Or the life of a café housed in a Victorian building in Parkdale alongside the life of a café in a Victorian edifice in Yorkville.

 

 

Viewing of the Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

The project tapped into people’s natural tendency to make comparisons. Watching the videos, viewers first noticed the differences between two locations; but as the sequence of juxtaposed images unfolded, they perceived more nuances and complexities. We enriched the installation by having members of the collective perform shadow dancing behind the windows at various intervals. Later on, youth members of Johnnyland did line drawings with glass markers on the windows, blurring the videoed locales’ social, cultural and economical distinctions. In this way, we presented a multi-layered depiction of the fabric of Toronto using both new and old media, and adding another level of juxtaposition.

 

 

Part of the Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

Mixing Toronto is an installation that not only plays with the notion of merging contrasting geographical locations, but also challenges ideas of social differentiation and exclusivity; it travels the roads across generations, cultures, and disciplines to reveal in a new way our city’s multiplicity, emphasizing connectivity, community, and collectivity.

 

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst.

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst

 

Part of Mixing Toronto video projection installation during 2014 Nuit Blnache at Sanderson Library, Dundas and Bathurst