Project Blinkenlights Toronto: Stereoscope
September 23, 2008 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Remote control Toronto's City Hall by iPhone during Octobre 4th Nuit blanche. Project Blinkenlights will again transform a huge building into a computer display. This time 960 windows of Toronto's City Hall. Everybody can submit animations to be shown and there will be client programms for iPhone and OSX to receive the signal and interact with the installation. Watch the previous installations in Berlin [Mefi thread] and Paris [Mefi thread] on Google Video.
posted by meikel (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Love Nuit Blanche! Love it love it love it!
posted by humannaire at 11:36 AM on September 23, 2008

Lovely stuff.
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on September 23, 2008

Man, you're nearly making me miss Toronto.
posted by GuyZero at 11:46 AM on September 23, 2008

See some pictures of the setup. The 4th floor is already blinking and most of the windows are covered with foil already. The iPhone simulator is developed by the Coding Monkeys (Subethaedit) and has been submitted to the app store. It will be free of charge.
posted by meikel at 12:01 PM on September 23, 2008

posted by avocet at 12:16 PM on September 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Is that a problem, avocet? I have to admit, I am not familiar with the financial institutions of Canada and relied on the Blinkenlights folks' statement that they are acting totally independent of the Bank:
The Scotiabank Nuit Blanche is fully sponsored by Scotiabank which means that all art projects shown are paid for by the bank. All projects retain complete autonomy and need not serve as an advertisement space for the company (which is a requirement on our side).
posted by meikel at 12:40 PM on September 23, 2008

Alle touristen und non-technischen lookenpeepers! Das machine is nicht fur fingerpoken und mittengrabben. Is easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzen sparken. Das machine is diggen by experten only. Is nicht fur gerwerken by das dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseeren keepen das cottenpicken hands in das pockets. Relaxen und watchen das blinkenlights.
posted by Kabanos at 12:51 PM on September 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Avocet is referring to the fact that Nuit Blanche has been so unrelentingly branded by its flagship sponsor that they almost had to change the name to "Nuit Rouge et Blanche."

This idea sounds promising, if derivative of the seemingly-endless "let's project something user-generated on a large surface" meme that keeps floating around Toronto. Sometimes it's worked great - for instance, an installation at Luminato, another major arts festival, installed a set of the world's most powerful searchlights on the waterfront last year, then tied them to pulse sensors that people could hold, then watch their heartbeats get projected thousands of feet into the sky. The next year, Luminato tried covering Dundas Square in weather balloons lit from inside with LEDs that were supposed to respond to the crowd's noise. It was a bit of a letdown.

Of course, we're missing the bigger picture here, with is that last year's Nuit Blanche - how shall I phrase this? - blew.
posted by bicyclefish at 12:57 PM on September 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

That's cool, I love Nuit Blanche, looking forward to it!

Although I have to agree with bicyclefish, last year's sucked. The first one blew my mind, but last year there were way too many people (perhaps unavoidable), and the art was way too widespread across the city, while the projects were way too small scale to accomodate the large crowds. Hopefully this one will be better!

I haven't had a chance to check out the website, what sounds good this year?
posted by yellowbinder at 1:27 PM on September 23, 2008

Alas, the irony of me flying out of Toronto earlier that day, heading to Berlin, a city that has already done this. Or is it done on a regular basis there?
posted by mannequito at 1:51 PM on September 23, 2008

At last year's Nuit Blanche there was a drunk old man passed out in the middle of UofT campus, not far the main promenade. Tourists kept mistaking him for one of the exhibits.

/true story
posted by spoobnooble at 1:51 PM on September 23, 2008

Oh, I've actually got a great Nuit Blanche story!

So Nuit Blanche 2006. I was going through a very trying time personally (won't go into the details, but I was a bit shattered). I was also working on a documentary called Let's All Hate Toronto, and we decided to hit the town to see what kind of sights we could shoot, and what trouble we could get into.

Although it's a doc, the idea was that at this point in the film our character "Mr. Toronto" was ashamed of his home city, and put a bag over his head to hide himself (an idea taken from Hamilton Ti-Cats fans who wore bags to hide their shame but still support their team). We got him to stand in Philosopher's Walk behind the museum, with the bag on his head, not knowing what would happen.

An old woman went up to him and thought he looked sad, so she hugged him. Seeing the potential for something wonderful, I went up and hugged him myself. Very quickly he was being mobbed by strangers, all wanting to hug this random guy in a suit with a bag on his head. They thought it was art!

I was doubled over with laughter, listening to people discuss the integrity of the piece, and how there were probably agents in the crowd who got the whole thing started (half true). It was really funny at first, but it was also really touching, as literally hundreds of people connected by hugging a complete stranger. As I said I was in a bad place, and it totally reaffirmed my faith in people and Toronto.

We put together a YouTube video of it, and it did make a nice finale for the documentary, but I never felt it really played as well edited as it did in real life. I do have the raw footage and occasionally watch it to give myself a cheering up though ;)
posted by yellowbinder at 2:09 PM on September 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

@mannequito: It's not done on a regular basis in Berlin althought it happened two times there so far. First (ever) installment started Sept 11, 2001 (no kidding) and then a short reprise at the end of 2003.
posted by meikel at 2:14 PM on September 23, 2008

That's cool, I love Nuit Blanche, looking forward to it!

Although I have to agree with bicyclefish, last year's sucked.

There've been two of them.
You love something which has sucked for fully half of its existence?
posted by regicide is good for you at 6:32 PM on September 23, 2008

Yeah, I love it. Last year had problems, but I don't think they're insurmountable. I still believe in the event. A stay up all night and look at crazy art evening is much better than staying home.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:01 PM on September 23, 2008

The desktop version of the Blinkenlights Simulator is now available for download (OSX). It currently shows test data but will soon display the actual "feed" of the light installation on the City Hall facade.
posted by meikel at 12:06 PM on September 24, 2008

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