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Banal Events Memorialized In Bronze

On This Spot: Mediocrity
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.


  • Gloria

    I love this.

  • Marc Lostracco

    DECEMBER 7, 2007
    4:13 p.m.
    Disguised as a panda,
    a woman proclaims her appreciation.
    “I love this,” she says.

  • DaveH

    But is it art?

  • iamnotdynamite

    (pretentiousness ahead)
    bears some relation to hakim bey’s poetic terrorism suggestion of “bolt up brass commemorative plaques in places (public or private) where you have experienced a revelation or had a particularly fulfilling sexual experience, etc.” except in this case it involves bolting up a brass plaque in places where something particularly mundane has occured. hmm. i must ponder the relation between these two types of plaques *strokes beard and paces back and forth*.

  • sniderscion

    Thanks for using my shot and for the great info and links. Now I have a perfect linkback to explain my image. Interesting concept.
    Art? Only if they put up a plaque that said “This is not a bomb” and then shot a video :)

  • traintrack88

    This was an amazing project and it came about through the support of two artist run centres – Trinity Square Video and TPW Gallery. They artists were paid and there were two other components to the work with exhibitions at both Trinity Square Gallery and TPW Gallery.
    Ah, art. It doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It was a great project and I’m glad that people got a chance to check it out. The gallery exhibitions have long been taken down, but the plaques remain. Congrates to the Aubrey Reeves from Trinity Square Video and Kim Simon from TPW Gallery. Support your local artists and artist run centres!
    I work there.
    Roy Mitchell
    Trinity Square Video

  • mattalexto
  • rek

    Wooster’d: 1 2