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A Vivid Weekend in Sydney

Sydney lights up jubilantly as the Vivid Sydney 2013 festival switches on for the 5th year in running. We checked out the well-lit grandeur and came away enlightened like a bulb over our heads!

Words: Ellyse Ng   Photography: Irvin Hanni

It was one heckuva weekend to be in The Rocks, Sydney.  It was the launch day of Vivid Sydney, and at 6pm, The Rocks was lit up in all a wonderful lollapalooza of lights and sounds. I took part in the Vivid Walk, where over 60 light and sound sculptures were scattered across Darling Harbour all the way till the iconic Sydney Opera House. There was magic in the air, as Sydney was transformed into a luminous wonderland right out of my childlike imagination! Let’s walk through the beautiful sculptures :)

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Think it’s beautiful now? Wait till you see it at night!

Where it all began…

The birthplace of Vivid Sydney is the unassuming Museum of Contemporary Arts. The subtle heritage building stood silent as the sun sets, but a walk behind towards the harbourside revealed the façade was covered with 3D illumination – a simply colourful splurge of colours, lights and movement! Check out the video below:

Of birds and bees

Aptly called ‘Bees’, it may be fighting for attention beside the majestic Sydney Opera House, but it garners its own fan base as well. Jon Voss, a Sydney-based artist, explored form, movement and light in this sculpture of tiny yellow lights that truly represents an organized chaos.

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The cityscape

Exchanging my free drink coupon for a glass of bubbly at the Lounge Bar in the Museum of Contemporary Arts, I stood at the open veranda and gazed at the breathtaking skyline. The tall skyscrapers were lit up in a dynamic display of colour and lighting with the latest LED energy efficient technology.

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I like to move it, move it!

Along Circular Quay is Customs House, one of Sydney’s finest heritage buildings. Instead of the usual serious persona, Vivid Sydney saw the building turned into a psychedelic explosion of colour. Colourful projection splashed on the surface, and a dance floor is installed with gesture-recognition technology (think Sony Kinect). Being the curious cat myself, I pounced onto the dance platform and to my surprise, the entire building’s projection moved in perfect synchrony to my dance steps! Such fun!

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The red durian

From afar, that’s exactly what it looked like. Up close, it’s a circular structure made entirely of LED lights and red traffic cones. The artists William Fernandez, Young Lee and Thomas Hale called it ‘Planet’, where we were able to interact with the sculpture through motion sensors, triggered lighting and recording devices that played back our voices.

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Meadow of lights

Now this one is fun! Standing just over 2 feet tall, these flexible installations popped up like colourful grass, where the kid in me ran through the ‘Light Meadows’, bent each one of them and played with the shadows.

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Ding, dong, flower bells

It was so real that I really thought that I was transported into the world of James Cameron’s Avatar. Illuminated flower bells were shaped from plastic cups and hung like a plant, ratting and glowing brighter when one approaches. The ‘Digitalis’ had such uncanny life-like characteristics!

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The tunnel of light!

It was easy to miss this one, located discreetly between two buildings in The Rocks. But the lit-up structure glowed brightly as I walked under, and at a closer inspection, found that they were built entirely from milk crates! The artist Jason Lu from Australia called it ‘The Milky Way’.

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Pardon my brass

If my voice was a brass instrument, then I’ll know exactly how it’ll sound with Gloria Ronchi and Claudio Benghi’s ‘Which is your brass voice?’ installation. Just speak into the microphones, and hear your voice in the form of a trumpet, trombone, tuba, muted trumpet or French Horn.

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I’ve got sunflowers on a cloudy day…

Right outside my hotel window was this little spot of sunshine aptly called ‘Sunflowers’, where Mark Hammer and Andre Kecskes projected brilliant sunflowers onto the top of the building. It was simple, yet quite a pick-me-up on a dreary day :)

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I came, I saw, I see-saw

The digital marketing agency VML created a light installation involving three see-saws connected to a LED screen. As the adults and kids played on the see-saws (yours truly included), the screen showed an artistic ‘bounce’ of the frequency with colours and light movement, turning play into art.

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No, it’s not the popular TV series. This is even better! It’s the name of a giant lighting chandelier where you get to interact with the drums and the light display pulsated through the sculpture at different intensity.

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No bridge is falling down this time!

I played with the Sydney Harbour Bridge…literally! In ‘Colour the Bridge’, I got to try on the world’s first immersive projection, where I chose colours and scenes from an interactive touch screen, which were then projected onto the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you spotted the all-pink colour combination, that was yours truly *beam*.

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The masterpiece

One thing I loved about Sydney was waking up every morning and be greeted by the magnificent Sydney Opera House. Whilst the structure is quite impressive by day, by night during Vivid Sydney, itturned into one of the largest projection projects – ‘Play’. A wonderful splash of patterns, colours and designs decorated the sails vividly, and since any light projected into the windows below the sails will disrupt the performances within, much precision is needed for the patterns to reflect on the sails without overlapping. Truly the pièce de résistance!

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Vivid next year?

And I ask myself, why not? It was truly a celebration of ideas where the world comes together in a creative extravaganza like no other. The Vivid Walk route is definitely a must for all first-timers to truly explore the many different light installations. I left Sydney with a heart heavier than lead but definitely more creatively enlightened!

  • Anonymous

    Looks so fun! We covered it on our blog too and made a Sydney Virtual Room: http://bit.ly/1157zHy