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Art is long, life is short: Metro's top picks for Nuit Blanche 2016

This year's Nuit Blanche features 90 art installations across Toronto. Metro's creative director, Jason Logan, has picked five must-see pieces.

People are silhouetted by an art exhibit at the 2015 Nuit Blanche art festival in Toronto. Nuit Blanche has sloughed off its big corporate sponsor and will be a little smaller for 2016.

REYNALDO VASCONCELOS/CP

People are silhouetted by an art exhibit at the 2015 Nuit Blanche art festival in Toronto. Nuit Blanche has sloughed off its big corporate sponsor and will be a little smaller for 2016.

Nuit Blanche can sometimes take on a nightclub-sponsored-by-a-bank vibe, with more bright lights and dried ice than thoughtful art.  Art can inspire, change minds and solve problems as well as delight. As Nuit Blanche sloughs off its big corporate sponsor and gets little smaller this year, there’s a chance for the art to embrace a more grassroots spirit and take the measure of our city from street level.

From fixing bikes to celebrating disappearing mom and pop shops maybe it’s time to revisit the festival as a way to embrace – and discover – the local. With that in mind, Metro’s creative director, Jason Logan, has picked five of his favourite installations at this year’s festival.

1. Literature vs. Traffic (60 Queen St. West)

Contributed

Spanish art collective Luzinterruptus is bringing a sea of glowing books to the street outside Old City Hall. The installation is a celebration of the printed word and a commentary about reclaiming our streets from the car: “donated books will become the conqueror of public space with traffic yielding to the modest power of the written words,” reads the official Nuit Blanche description. If you show up late enough, you can even take one of the books home.

2. Electrosmog Toronto (235 Queens Quay West)

Contributed

Using “projectors, lasers, computers, antennas and receivers,” Montreal artist Jean-Pierre Aubé will bring to life the electronic signals coursing through Toronto’s sky. You’ll never look at your cellphone the same way again.

3. Urban Syncopation (111 Queen’s Park)

Contributed

A temporary sculpture billed as “living thickened topography,” this piece tracks sound levels in real time along popular Toronto streets and re-casts them into a pulsing light show.

4. The Guardians (Bay and Temperance streets)

Contributed

Vladimir Antaki’s Guardians project is a series of photographs documenting “mom and pop shops” around the world. Montreal-based Antaki describes the eccentric shops as “urban temples.”

5. Bike Date (273 Bloor St. West)

Contributed

Consisting of a bike trailer with two seats and some speakers, Laura Curry’s Bike Date offers a chance for viewers to engage in conversation with the artist, and have it broadcast to a wider audience. Curry will even repair your bike while you chat.

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