Most of the bronze plaques bolted to the city’s historically designated sites and monuments commemorate some virtually forgotten piece of minor Toronto history—but take a stroll along Queen Street West and some familiar round medallions might particularly pique your interest.
The strange plaques were part of the grand Gestures installation by the 640 480 Video Collective, which aimed to memorialize inconsequential events captured on video at ten spots around the city. Each marker was placed in September and describes the unexciting details of a YouTube-sourced video shot at that particular location (like the ones above at left and at right).
“Hunched at a table, she self-consciously pulled at her black sleeves and used her two straws like chopsticks to eat the slush of her iced coffee,” reads one plaque, which also includes the YouTube tags inscribed in tiny text below [video]. Another sign affixed outside the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art proclaims, “Couples walked by holding umbrellas. A blonde girl complained, yet her boyfriend urged her on as someone yelled, ‘MOCCA! MOCCA! MOCCA!’” [video]
640 480 takes its name from the original 4:3 aspect ratio of video screens, and the group has an obvious affinity for the rapidly disappearing magnetic tape format. Memorial lapel ribbons made from videotape were also part of the grand Gestures installation, and taped copies of the videos are to be converted into an artificial diamond, signifying the preservation of memories from an increasingly obsolete format into an everlasting state.
What makes the plaques so brilliant is how, by marking prosaic events in such an overstated manner, they become infinitely more interesting. Still, someone obviously thought such barely noteworthy moments were important enough to upload to YouTube in the first place, which is perhaps more of a mystery.
UPDATE (December 11): Torontoist reader Matt has informed us that the plaque has been scoffed.
Left photo by sniderscion; right photo by designwallah; both from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.