Pulling Back the covers: a Cinema2000 Online Exhibit

2019, Culture, Digital/Online, History, Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto
Adult Entertainment., Cinema, history, law, Max Allan, Morality Squad, Pornography, technology, Toronto, Yonge street
About This Project

Date: April 11 – September 1, 2019

Partner: Sexual Representation Collection (SRC) at the University of Toronto

Location: Cinema2000Exhibit.com

Project Members: Jessie Addley
Cinema 2000 represented a specific and often ignored, moment of Toronto’s history. Sexual material used to do hot trade on Yonge Street which was comprised of hundreds of adult businesses. But the city of Toronto struggled with sexual explicitness in the public, it sought to erase its presence from the downtown community on grounds of morality. While the acceptance of adult entertainment in the public had fluctuated over time the documentation of these changes are lean. This exhibition will help record the attempts of individuals and businesses on Yonge Street to safeguard their desire to be explicate.
This Exhibition should appeal to an adult audience, particularly university level and above. While the exhibition is open to any age, an adult audience is more likely to understand the difficulties surrounding the showcasing of sexual materials. Any individual interested in the history of Toronto, cinemas, and adult entertainment will find this a stimulating niche.
The exhibition is presented as a website hosted by Wix. Originally a physical venue was provided on Yonge Street but it ran into scheduling conflicts with the building’s developer. Yonge Space and The Yonge Street Business Association are still supportive of the project. While they are no longer physically part of the exhibit the location is still a central theme in the web exhibition.
Yonge Space and the Sexual Representation Collection (SRC) at the University of Toronto were the original partners who proposed an exhibit using their resources. The SRC is an archive composed of donated materials which document the history of censorship of sexual materials. Much of the information in the exhibition related to censorship and Cinema 2000 comes from this archive. Max Allen, a former employee of cinema 2000, also contributed an amazing amount of background into via interviews. The Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto provided funding for this project.
Planning for this Exhibit started in October of 2018, the first pitch was given in November. The planning and researching component took 4 months. This included and 2 major changes in scope and team composition. In February the exhibition went from a physical space to website and March consisted of translating the exhibit into a digital space. The final month consisted of building the website and populating it. The online exhibit launches April 11th and will be monitored until September 1st 2019.
Pulling back the covers; a Cinema 2000 Online Exhibit both benefited and was weakened from being transformed into a website. The exhibit lost is physical connection to the public and Yonge Street. One of the joys of a physical space is confronting the public with difficult topics. One of the main themes of the exhibit is the discomfort and vibrancy the sexual material created in the downtown core. However, as a website the exhibit could thrive on a shoe-string budget. The costs of printing and renting projection equipment was eliminated. The online exhibition can have many visual images and videos for the audience to experience. This leans into the themes of visual censorship as picture media was a blatant affront morality laws. The website also allows the audience to choose their level of engagement and depth of learning in a 4D space. By navigating though links and pages they can travel deeper into the narrative or skim the top layer for basic information.
The website is advertised on the University of Toronto’s Exhibition 4000Y class’ poster. The link to the website is also provided to The Yonge Street Business Association, The Sexual Representation Collection and the Faculty of Gender studies and Diversity. It is mainly advertised digitally through newsletters and word of mouth.
The outcomes of this project will be measured by the responses left in the website guestbook. While the number of guests visiting the site cannot be tracked, the guestbook can chart active engagement. As of writing this case study the site has not been launched so whether the project is a success in the eyes of the public is TBA.
I’d like to thank my former team members Katyln and Page who helped get this exhibit started. Thank you to Yonge Space and The sexual Representation Collection for coming together and offering this project to the university. As well the University of Torotno for their sponsorship and my Professor Matt and TA’s Rebecca and Camille who helped guide and teach me. Finally, thank you to Max Allen for his amazing stories about Cinema 2000.