Toronto Through My Lens

Category: Events (Page 1 of 5)

Prepping For Pride

Pride Weekend in Toronto is soon upon us. In preparation, this month an explosion of rainbows and inclusion messages from local business and merchants have been appearing in the downtown core. Here’s some of what I’ve come across in the last few weeks:

Eaton Centre

Rogers Headquarters, 333 Bloor Street East

Manulife Head Office, 250 Bloor Street East

OrangeTheory Fitness, 160 Bloor Street East

160 Bloor Street East

175 Bloor Street East

Circle K, 121 Bloor Street East

The Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario (CPA)

RBC, 2 Bloor Street East

Holt Renfrew, 50 Bloor Street West

TD Canada Trust

A Pride Chicken at Nandos, 832 Bay Street

Ontario Nurses’ Association, 85 Grenville Street

Pride Bicycle Lock, Church Street

LCBO

Rexall, Church & Wellesley Streets

Scotiabank, Yonge & Wellesley Streets

Shopper’s Drug Mart, Yonge & Charles Streets

Jack Astor’s, Yonge & Bloor Streets

Toronto Public Library, Yorkville Branch

The Wine Rack, Church & Wellesley Streets

Dudley’s Hardware, Church Street

And, of course, the epicentre of it all:
the corner of Church & Wellesley Streets

Happy Pride Everyone!

desiFEST 2024

Last weekend played host to desiFEST, the annual celebration of South Asian music, art, food and culture, held in Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square. In this, the festival’s 18th year, the entertainment lineup consisted of exclusively Canadian talent. Mayor Olivia Chow was also on hand to address the audience; she was the first-ever Mayor to participate in desiFEST. The festival lasted over 12 hours, wrapping up at 11:00PM that night.

Here’s a bit of what last Saturday afternoon offered:

Dancers

BollyX hosted by Dance with Safa

Games

Music

Maple Masala Band

This homeless guy was feeling the vibes of the Maple Masala Band and decided to do something about it…

Shirjeel Jackson

Food (lots of it…)

If you’d like to learn more about desiFEST, click here.

Cherry Blossoms

You know it’s springtime in Toronto when the cherry blossoms suddenly pop out for their all-too-brief stay.

In Japan, flower viewing is an age-old tradition called hanami. Called sakura in Japan, the cherry blossom trees bloom in Toronto at the end of April to early May. When they bloom the trees look quite stunning, displaying their delicate, fluffy, pink and white flowers.

The first Japanese cherry tree was planted here in 1959; it was a present from the citizens of Tokyo. In High Park, 34 cherry trees were received from the Sakura project. Other cherry trees were also donated to other locations around the city, including Exhibition Place, York University and U of T.

I wasn’t up this year for the full-on urban battle that is High Park cherry blossom viewing, so I opted for a couple of alternate locations which offered a calmer, quieter experience:

103 Maitland Street

Robarts Library, University of Toronto

Trinity College, University of Toronto

Wellesley Street East During Solar Eclipse

When the solar eclipse passed over Toronto this past Monday (April 8, 2024) I dashed out of my workplace on Wellesley Street East with camera in hand and shot a few images as the darkness progressed.

Although we were not in the path of totality, it became quite dark. There was some very heavy cloud cover that day, so unfortunately we weren’t afforded a direct view of the eclipse, but it was still a very unique experience. Here’s how things looked in my corner of the world that day:

2:10 PM

2:13 PM

2:17 PM

2:18 PM

2:19 PM

2:20 PM

And then it quickly passed and became light again. The eeriness of it was great while it lasted…

Toronto Comicon 2024

Toronto Comicon is an annual comic book and pop culture convention held in Toronto at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre since 2001.

When it comes to the worlds of Fantasy, Sci-fi, Cosplay, Roleplay, LARPing, etc., I’m quite out of the loop and couldn’t identify with much of what I saw that day, but it was all quite fascinating nonetheless. I’ve come to the conclusion that people just simply love to dress up no matter the occasion, and this convention gives them a very generous outlet to do just that.

To attend a Comicon to shoot the costumes has been on my photo radar for a number of years, and it was fun to finally do that this past weekend. The sheer mass of people was almost overwhelming and all 3 floors of the Metro Convention Centre, plus the North Building, were jammed with attendees.

This event had it all, including:

Wardrobe malfunctions…

Miles of comic books…

Masses of people…

Epic battles…

Boardgames…

Memorabilia for sale (lots!)…

And – of course – some great costumes…

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

In a nutshell, St. Patrick’s Day observes the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday has evolved into a celebration of Irish culture with parades, special foods, music, dancing, drinking (and more drinking, and more drinking) and the wearing of a whole lot of green.

Here’s a few shots of the parade that went down Yonge Street. In true Toronto style it proved to be a fully multi-cultural event:

Illuminite 2024

Currently running until the end of March 2024 is an interesting LED light exhibition called Illuminite. There are 6 installations in total: 2 in Yonge-Dundas Square, 3 in Trinity Square Park behind the Eaton Centre, and 1 at Yonge and Shuter Streets (although this last one I was not able to locate during my visit).

Apparently Illuminite happens every year, but this was the first year I’d personally heard of it. I believe the event has been on hiatus over COVID so that would explain its absence.

At any rate, here’s a sampling of some of the works on display (descriptions courtesy of the Illuminite website):

Biolumen

Artist: Radha Chaddah & RAW Design
Location: Yonge-Dundas Square

Biolumen is by Toronto-based visual artist and scientist Radha Chaddah and architectural firm RAW Design.

Biolumen by Radha Chaddah x RAW Design is an immersive experience with changing light,texture, and sound. The art installation features ten large luminescent structures where art, science, and nature merge. Inspired by deep-sea Radiolaria, Biolumen represents resilience and beauty in harsh environments.

During the evening hours the columns cast patterns of light when spun by participants. During the day, the columns emit ambient sounds when spun.

Click images below for slideshow:

If there were darkness enough in Yonge-Dundas Square, this is how Biolumen would appear:

Digital Drapes

Artist: MattCreative
Location: HNR Properties 19-21 Dundas Square

Digital Drapes is the crossover between light, motion, and architecture, where all of the windows of a building are covered in grids of programmable LEDs. Dynamic visualizations are created that work together with the unique geometry of the building to activate the entire space, turning the entire building into an interactive canvas.

Unfortunately my shots of Digital Drapes cannot do it justice; the LEDs were constantly changing and pulsating so it was hard to capture this installation at its best:

Ethera

Artist: Ariel Weiss
Location: Trinity Square Park

Ethera is an interactive and LED based public art installation designed by students from the Department of Architectural Science at Toronto Metropolitan University. Toronto-based lighting design studio Urban Visuals and StrongLED also served as industry partners for the Media Architecture Biennale.

Through its polycarbonate and recycled glass-filled skin and its LED-based lighting system, the installation plays with lighting in both natural and artificial conditions.

The animated Ethera pavilion creates an immersive experience that invites visitors to disengage with the city around them, encouraging a childlike playfulness:

SAM Lamp

Artist: Sam Hardwicke-Brown
Location: Trinity Square Park

This installation is a response to episodes of negative mental health that we all face throughout our lives. Through the semiotics of structure, and the use of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) light technology, the intention of the installation is to provide support to those within the structure. This noctilucent installation aims to provide temporary comfort to those in need. In the bleakest of darkness, one will find support in the light.

This project acts as a Seasonal Affective Meditation space, and temporary safe haven for those in need:

Spectrum

Artist: Spectrum by Mirari, co-production of Quays Culture and Quartier des spectacles Partnership. Distribution by QDSinternational.
Location: Trinity Square Park

A listening experience, in which you are invited to engage with others in a sound-and-light dialogue. Take some time to listen, in order to see.

This interactive installation sheds light on the phenomenon of communication, by displaying the path taken by the waves generated by voices and other sounds. Here, the fundamental means of interpersonal communication, speech, is disconnected from language. Instead, it becomes a cascade of waves and luminous pulses, illustrating the fascinating trajectories of sound. Watch as your message moves from one end of the circles to the other. You will see how small gestures – invisible reverberations – can have a big impact:

The installations can be enjoyed for free daily until midnight, from March 1-31.

Illuminite has been created and sponsored by the Downtown Yonge BIA, with support from the Government of Canada and the City of Toronto.

Winter Stations 2024

What Is Winter Stations?

This past weekend I visited the latest iteration of Winter Stations at Woodbine Beach. Winter Stations is a single-stage international design competition held annually in Toronto. Participants are tasked with designing temporary winter art installations which incorporate existing lifeguard towers spaced strategically across the city’s Kew and Woodbine beaches. The structures (not in use in the wintertime) are considered visual anchor points for the installations.

Every year Winter Stations has a theme; this year it was entitled Resonance.

As in previous years, Winter Stations intends to build 4-6 winning proposals for a six-week exhibition along the waterfront, funding permitted.

While Toronto beaches are not typically as well visited in the colder seasons, Winter Stations has captured the imagination of the city. Designers can expect their designs to be well-visited and should anticipate public interaction.

The Installations

This year Winter Stations is spread around a little more to offer more easily accessible locations. There are six installations on Woodbine Beach, which are the ones I’ve covered in this post. There are three more installations that I did not get to: one in Woodbine Park, one in Kew Gardens and one in Ivan Forrest Gardens.

Installation descriptions courtesy of the Winter Stations website.

Bobbin’

Bobbin’ invites the visitor to a place where pivotal moments and whimsical memories prompt reflection. It shelters visitors with slats that create an ever-changing threshold between the bobbing zone and the surrounding beach. The seesaws draw from the playground-like Sling Swing and Lifeline projects, while its form within the landscape reflects HotBox and Introspection. Each material has been sourced from previous student projects in addition to salvaged materials from the community of Cambridge. As you navigate through, bobbing up and down, a fresh perspective unfolds, encouraging resonance with the surrounding and past Winter Stations.

We Caught A UFO!

We Caught A UFO! builds upon the project In the Belly of a Bear, which utilized the lifeguard chair by lifting the public above ground into a cozy space, transporting them into a new world. We Caught a UFO! re-imagines these qualities by referencing the rumours and whispers of the many UFO sightings across Lake Ontario. However, these rumours can no longer be disputed, as there is now physical proof! Caught under a net, the UFO is wrapped in glued aluminum foil which glimmers in the light, contrasting its surroundings as a foreign object. The public (especially kids!) are encouraged to explore the UFO and can climb up into the main space where pink plexi windows transform the beach into a new tinted landscape or planet! Ultimately, We Caught a UFO! is an installation which stimulates the public’s imagination while also providing a necessary shelter from the wind and cold.

WinterAction

WinterAction is a collaborative installation between the University of Guelph Department of Landscape Architecture and Ashari Architects in Iran. Its physical form is extremely simplistic and frankly underwhelming, but that’s because this iterative installation requires a phone to get the full experience. Through an augmented reality labyrinth journey, participants are provided with the opportunity navigate from confusion to inner peace, symbolized by a virtual tree at the centre that dynamically evolves with interactions. To begin, you need to download an app from the QR code on the installation’s sign.

Nova

Beneath the night sky, stars shine and create geometric patterns. Nova is a star that has crashed on top of a lifeguard station and illuminates Woodbine Beach throughout the night. Nova highlights TMU’s past decade of Winter Stations, inspired by the origami, materiality, and form of Snowcone, Lithoform, and S’Winter Station. Nova introduces 3D printing, a textile canopy, and an elegant steel pipe connection to create a pavilion with Resonance. The star pavilion shields users and encourages them to engage with their surroundings, and the lifeguard station makes a beacon for users to access panoramic views of the beach.

Nimbus

Inspired by the airy strands that make up the 2016 installation Floating Ropes, Nimbus’s playful shapes and colours do more than just resonate with its predecessor. Nimbus evolves the concept and materials by adding saturated blue ropes hanging below a bubbly white structure. The station asks visitors to consider the presence and absence of rain in our contemporary world by referencing both severe storms and flooding, as well as concerning trends of lack of rain, drought, and desertification.

A Kaleidoscopic Odyssey

A Kaleidoscopic Odyssey invites onlookers to step into an experience where we challenge where reality ends and imagination begins. Explore the limitless depths of perception with this mesmerizing adaptation of Kaleidoscope of the Senses, 2020. In this installation, there are two guiding concepts. The scale of a traditional kaleidoscope is magnified 84 times to a human scale so participants can inhabit the instrument and become a part of its wonder. Where a kaleidoscope is commonly a closed-loop system, this device is deliberately severed into two sculptured equal-and-opposite parts, with purposeful space between them.