Vivid - Sydney


Hello, so here I am. In Sydney: the first stop on the itinerary for the Art in the Dark world research tour. Sydney is: pretty; cold; good at salads and full of very beautiful, Australian looking Australians. It is my second day here and I am staying right in the middle of stuff. I booked a hotel on Wotif, and felt very chuffed/mature that I was finally booking into a hotel NOT a hostel. Only to discover; The Hotel, is in fact a pub and not just any pub, but the dive-iwouldn’tsetfootinside-kind. I now find myself on the top floor, squished into a tiny single room; paranoid that someone is breaking into my room every time I hear a bang. So….here I am. In Sydney: in a hostel inside a pub.

I met with the Director of the Lights of Vivid yesterday, a very inspiring man by the name of Anthony Bastic of AGB events. He gave me wonderful advice on starting up a festival and how to maintain it. I was also reminded again that festivals like these will above all, always be about the creative passion and cause.

Last night was the grand opening of Vivid, a government-funded festival of lights, music and ideas set around Circular Quay, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Sydney Opera House. This festival is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting over 400,000 visitors to the Sydney CBD. I went down and stood shivering with the masses for the grand light ‘switch-on’ at 6pm. Music blasted from the MCA as the buildings all around the CBD including the Sails on the Sydney Opera House became awash with light and colour. The festival had that same amiable feeling of community that Art in the Dark evokes. There is something special about the attracting power of lights that make people stand together en masse and suddenly start interacting with each other, finding themselves doing things that they wouldn’t normally do like yelling at a sculpture so it will make a movement.

The light festival is a mix of high-end video mapping and installations from emerging artists. Expressions of interest were open to artists all around the world, opening the festival to a variety of over 50 installations, both static and interactive, all with the common thread of being made with light.

Some pieces that stood out for me last night (I am back again tonight to see ones I missed) were:

The projection mapping on Customs House by The Electric Canvas. They are the same guys that worked with Inside Out Productions on the Town Hall and Ferry Building in Auckland and the Wellington Fanzone for RWC in Wellington.

This piece, I didn’t catch the name of the artists, but was fascinating in the fact that hundreds of people were gathered around it, all taking turns running up to it with their friends and screaming at the top of their lungs to see how much they could make the flaps move and then quickly scuttling off again. It was truly the most bizarre/amazing thing I have witnessed in a long time (you will be pleased to know, I also had a turn).

Perhaps being biased, but in fact, I truly could say my favorite of last night, came from New Zealand’s very own and Art in the Dark’s much loved, Angus Muir, Alexandra Heaney, Steve Ward and James Pendergrast. Their piece, Digital Wattle was based on the Australia’s national flower. The flowers would slowly change colour and gently sway in the (very cold) breeze on Cirulcar Quay. As you know, we love energy efficient works; this piece with over 300 lights would only draw the same power as three domestic light bulbs.

Taken from their information panel:

Steve Ward is passionate about unique spaces and environments where the public interact. Angus Muir specialises in creative event design and production, project management, and specific technical knowledge relating to lighting design and installation. Alexandra Heaney has enthusiasm for learning about new technology and ways they can be applied to the public arena. James Pendergrast focuses on the application of new technologies and reactive design as precursor to social observation and spatial composition. 

I think we can all agree that they are a bunch of bloody talent and we are looking forward to hearing their ideas for Art in the Dark 2012.

Oh, AND another reason we love them!? They credit AitD in their piece.

There were a million more things (well 50+) and I will update you with some of them once I get my head around the concept of blogging – (this in fact, is my first ever blog post). In the meantime, I am off to get inspired at the Ideas forum of Vivid at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  I had 3 pieces of toast this morning so I’m in for the long haul.


Ps. Apologies for the bad photographs (and thank you Kat Patrick for the amazing camera). It is a myth that a good camera makes a good photographer….or, I’m a massive idiot.