(Image courtesy daily dose of imagery. Used with permission.)
By Andrew Liszewski
Nuit Blanche is an annual all-night cultural festival that started in Paris in 2002, and has since spread to other large cities around the world, including Toronto. The event is held overnight on the first Saturday and Sunday in October, and one of the premiere exhibits here in Toronto this year will be the new Project Blinkenlights installation known as Stereoscope. The two curved towers that make up our city hall will be turned into giant pixel displays showing animations as well as letting people play interactive games like Pong via their mobile phones.
Last night I was lucky enough to wander past city hall as Project Blinkenlights was performing some of their first live tests, but unfortunately the only camera I had on hand was the crappy iPhone. Thankfully, a photoblogging friend of mine managed to snap some considerably better photos and was gracious enough to let me use one for this post. (You can find more shots on his site, daily dose of imagery.) I did however get a chance to speak to a couple of people from the project who were shooting footage for a documentary. According to them, not only will Stereoscope will be the first time the installation uses 2 buildings at the same time (hence the name) but it will also improve on past versions with every pixel being able to display 16 distinct levels. (Compared to just 8 and 4 previously.) Each window uses a 150W spotlight that’s diffused by a screen and controlled by a custom-built dimmer to create the individual pixels, and all 960 dimmers are wirelessly controlled by a master computer. In fact, Stereoscope actually uses quite a bit of new technology and software given the size of Toronto’s city hall (like going wireless instead of running cables) and so far it all looks rather impressive.
I’ll be stopping by Saturday night to grab some better photos of my own, as well as a video or two if the weather cooperates, and if any of our readers in Toronto will be checking it out, let me know in the comments. But for those who won’t be able to be there live, did I mention that Project Blinkenlights has also created a Stereoscope iPhone app allowing you to see what’s being displayed at any given time? You can read more about it after the jump.
I have to say, as impressive as seeing Stereoscope running in person is, I was just as impressed by the iPhone/iPod Touch application they created to go along with it. It provides you with a 3D interactive model of Toronto’s city hall that includes whatever animation or interactive exhibit is currently being displayed, all in real-time. The 3D model can be rotated and zoomed using the multi-touch display, or you can select one of 8 preset virtual camera positions for the optimal viewing angle.
While Nuit Blanche only takes place over one night, Stereoscope will apparently be running every night for the entire week, so even if you can’t make it in person on Saturday, you should be able to stop by during the rest of the week. And if you can’t make it to Toronto at all for the exhibit, the app is probably the next best thing to being there.