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Daniel Lanois in January, 2010 in Los Angeles.

Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images

The annual Nuit Blanche installation at Nathan Phillips Square has been a centrepiece of sorts for the soirée, in part by virtue of the site's architectural gifts. This year figures to be no different with celebrated Canadian music producer Daniel Lanois taking the reins.

Lanois, producer to big-name artists such as U2 and Neil Young, is presenting the immersive multimedia exhibition Later That Night at the Drive-In at Toronto's annual "all-night contemporary art thing," from sundown on Oct. 2 to sunrise the next morning. In a departure from the stage shows he's accustomed to, however, he's encouraging visitors to do a little exploring.

Lanois and his crew are dotting the square with 24 large speaker towers and 12 video screens of varying sizes. At the heart of it all, Lanois will control a console with a separate input into each tower, so that he "can send sound to any of them in isolation" to produce and perform a soundtrack accompanying films playing on the dozen screens.

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"It's going to be like entering an enchanted forest of sound and picture," he said Monday at the unveiling of a retrospective exhibition celebrating Nuit Blanche's first four years.

Lanois has never been to a Nuit Blanche, in Toronto or elsewhere, and says his son Simon, "a big Nuit Blanche supporter," hooked him up with the organizers. He calls it "the opportunity of a lifetime," and though he hit some technical snags along the way (initially the sound was to emanate from the screens, until they found the speakers were rattling the projectors), he believes it will be a sight to behold.

Live performances will include some steel-guitar riffs by Lanois and music by his band Black Dub, as well as a dance component. And at "the stroke of midnight," he'll mount a series of four songs from Young's new album Le Noise (to be released Sept. 28 and produced by Lanois), set to film footage of the album's creation.

Crucially for an event as fluid and unpredictable as Nuit Blanche, Lanois has left wiggle room in the program and plans to gauge the mood of the night.

"We are allowing ourselves a window of flexibility to improvise relative to the demands of our audience," he said, adding with a chuckle: "If everybody's high on ecstasy, we've got a couple of aces up the sleeve."

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