Photos by: Michael Turnbull

Michael Turnbull Nuit Blanche

Every year Scotia Bank treats the streets of Toronto to one giant city wide art exhibit. For those who have never been, there’s nothing to write home about. Nuit Blanche is a serious waste of time, and a massive pile of shit.

Nuit Blanche is the classic corporate version of what people with a grade 2 education think art is. Its a series of things that are disassociated with one another, under the pretense that more exhibitions means more people wandering the streets, and spending more money. Great news for street meat vendors.

But what was the main event this year?
Hell, what were the main events for any year? Rubber ducks in a pond? Book page lined alleyways? Really it’s been a lot of fluff followed by poor execution.

Since things are much easier to digest if they are simple, straightforward and easy, when a new IP hits mass media, (IP as in something that has new intellectual property, with little to no precedent) it has to set a new standard by breaking out and being bold in order to gather the attention of the public.

Epic Games made their name with a trill little commercial for
Gears of War back in 2006, and Old Spice did something similar with The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’in 2011. (Has it really been a year?) Standing out is what separates Apple from it’s tech competitors, and Google from other search engines. These bold moves set the standard for that which succeeds it in the future. But as a company prevails, it begins to develop it’s formula for success.

We’ll call this formula the ‘Nickelback effect’.

After you top charts with a single like ‘How You Remind Me’, it’s hard to go back to ‘Worthy to Say’ and beating off to the idea that someone cared about your shitty ska/ hard rock band.

The ‘Nickleback Effect’ is the standard in most major corporate conglomerates, forcing them to continue producing safe, mediocre sequels, rather than take a risk and push the envelope. The iPhone 5 is a knock off of it’s iPhone 4 and 4S models, championing a lighter, larger phone with more software, but forgetting what made it different in the first place: it’s experience.

Family Guy’s bold themes of killing your mother, and sexist undertones brought glory to this once sleeper hit. Yet the moment it got back onto air, the series began to rely on ‘Remeber that time I...’ jokes and blatant racism to drag it through it’s everlasting seasons as it grew exponentially more pathetic and uninspired.

When Nuit Blanche opened up back in 2004, Toronto had never known anything like it. This was an experience that was more than just a self contained festival. If you hadn’t heard about it, you were likely to have run into some small exhibition by accident.

These exhibits were engaging. They had to be.
Much like a fat girl sucking dick, success lay in garnering attention and giving people something to talk about. Achieving it’s success in 2008/2009 with implementation of projects like the city hall light show, (where all of the windows in the city hall buildings were pixels and the structure became a series of images that changed like gifs) Scotiabank had finally received the publicity it was looking for. And though it was shit, it’s hard not to notice something so large on your long stroll home from the local rub and tug.

As the event grew, the focus shifted towards the amount of exhibits, and the ‘Nicleback Effect’ began to set in. This year alone, Scotiabank boats a whopping 150 art exhibits. Congratulations. With a push towards quantity over quality, the exhibits have become fast gimmicks and ‘Remember that time I...’ jokes. More and more, people have started talking about things that happen to stand out rather than actual exhibits, wondering if they are part of the show. The conspiracy theories that revolve around the ‘real art’ are more interesting than the best pieces on display.

Now, capitalism doesn’t ruin everything, but the more we bank on what is safe, and the more we use language like ‘tried and true’, the more fucking idiots will tell me how brilliant the ‘Green Invaders’ exhibit was, and how its a representation of the nostalgia of culture itself. With the trend toward incremental upgrades, and DLC patches, the mass populace becomes excited over mediocrity, and it becomes harder to imagine that we’ll ever begin to see something that is actually groundbreaking.

Let’s live in more interesting times.

Michael Turnbull


There where some pretty cool exhibits man not all where bad, but I see and agree with what you are saying. The problem here isn't much ScotiaBank's (or is it ?) the problem I see is the same problem I see in the current generation of artists, self proclaimed artists are given "THE CHANCE" by being accepted into the media world by displaying their work at events without having anyone tell them how bad their are at being artists. People now a days are receptive to mediocre over good and look at bad art and say "I see what he is getting at and so on..." just so they are different and then the sheep (PEOPLE) follow along, because no one knows what good art is supposed to be. Part of the problem also comes from us being in a ERA where we are suposed to be accepting and supporting of all types of things and people, BUT NO FUCK THAT IFYOU ARE BAD.... THEN YOU ARE BAD SO STOP MAKING SHITTY ART AND GRAB AN APPLICATION TO BK, AT LEAST YOU WILL BE MAKING THE WOrl......Errr....FAT PEOPLE SOME GOOD INSTEAD OF POLLUTING MY EYES. nuff said... yes I suck at writing that is why I do not do it for a living, see what I am getting at?

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