[-empyre-] NIGHTSENSE

Jim Drobnick displaycult at sympatico.ca
Tue Apr 3 04:22:06 EST 2012

Dear Renate and Tim,

Thanks for inviting us to participate in this month’s series of conversations.

To start one thread, we thought we would begin with a relatively recent project of ours, NIGHTSENSE, that formed part of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche in 2009. We are revisiting this project at this time because we are editing a special issue of Public magazine on the topic of “Art and Civic Spectacle.”

NIGHTSENSE featured visual and extra-visual artworks within the shadowy world of Toronto’s financial district. Addressing the spectre of market destabilization, the invisible transmission of broadcast signals, as well as hauntings from a locale where early Toronto history has been all but erased, these projects to engaged the audience in both critical and ludic participation. NIGHTSENSE invited a reconsideration of the normal sensory economy by intensifying the subtle but powerful links between bodies, aesthetic perception and shifts in capital. (Images can be found at http://www.displaycult.com/exhibitions/NIGHTSENSE.html)

The overall context in which NIGHTSENSE appeared was Nuit Blanche, which we hope list members have experienced or read about. These events last all night long in a number of cities worldwide, and typically involve thousands of visitors (1,000,000 or so in Toronto for each of the past couple of years). Artists produce large-scale performances and interventions that engage, critique and reconceptualize the urban context.

Our issue of Public will address ­­­­the dynamics and significance of these popular mass events. How do the monumental artworks of city-wide exhibitions relate to the diverse histories of spectacle? What are the opportunities and challenges of such events? When audience levels reach into the hundreds of thousands, what issues are raised about spectatorship and participation? What impact can curating have on mass subjectivities?

We’re interested in starting a discussion based on these questions, and any others that may arise from the list. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

All the best,
Jennifer and Jim

Jim Drobnick and Jennifer Fisher

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