Sydney, Australia the most densely populated metropolis in Australia and Oceanic region. Surrounded by the beauty of the New South Wales landscape, the city seems to have just about everything within reach. From beaches to nightlife, Sydney is a city of light, sound and energy—and so it makes sense that one of the biggest illumination festivals around the world happens in Sydney annually.
The show has not been around for a long time, but the popularity has blossomed rapidly. In 2009, Vivid was a segment of the Smart Light Festival that had been curated by the esteemed lighting designer Mary-Anne Kyriakou. Brian Eno collaborated with Bruce Ramus (two genius light designers) to project “paintings” on both sides of the Sydney Opera House. The scene went over so well, it got its own special celebration.
Numbers and finances for Vivid have been rising tremendously since 2009. The NSW government reported that in 2012, the show brought in around 500,000 visitors and made $10 million in profit. Vivid 2013 raised the bar again by attracting more than 800,000 visitors and a $20 million income. 2014 meant increasing the breadth of displays, so Sydney light up more than the opera house. Walsh Bay, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Darling Harbour, The Star and Carriageworks amongst others joined in the festivities with illuminations of their own.
Vivid Sydney 2015 saw 1.7 million visitors.
Vivid Sydney 2016
The show started on May 27th and ran until June 18th—the longest duration for the festival yet. At night, between 18:00-23:00, the city came to life with stunning light displays. Added to the lineup were the Taronga Zoo, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Galeries. The other new addition were the performing arts venues. The best part about getting to see these attractions grow and thrive is that you never have to pay. Vivid Light is free to enjoy again and again.
Many pieces were international creations. For example, the display on The Museum of Contemporary Art was a collaboration between Huseyin Sami from western Sydney and Danny Rose, a Parisian artistic collective.
Meanwhile, Australian artist Jason French brought the façade of the Custom House on 31 Alfred Street to life with his “Hidden Stories” project. Visitors were astounded by the lizard-narrator who lead them through fantastical visuals of wizards and gnomes and hidden landscapes. There was even a nudge towards “self-sustainable” buildings when entering the gnome’s home, complete with wind turbines and solar panels.
Another unique statement was the Flurry sculpture in Circular Quay by the artist Eliot Rosenberg from Australia. The structure reacts to movement, and the light display was built to react to whoever entered the space inside. Flurry would synchronize to the participant’s skin, becoming a fluttering and flying display unique to each person’s expressions.
At the Sydney Opera House
Probably the biggest part of the Vivid Light was “Songlines,” the 15 minute long loop of artwork and music created by Indigenous Australian musicians and artists. The “dreaming” tracks are music that has no equivalent. These tunes have been long used by the Indigenous Australians to tell stories about the land and the emotions felt by nature. As for the lights, the design was a careful collaboration between major Aboriginal nations: Bundjalung, Gamilaroi, Wiradjuri, Anmatyerre, Worora and Yolngu. Cultural aspects of these native groups were highlighted and woven together lovingly.
Another interesting display at the Sydney Opera House was the Drone 100. The show ran for only five nights, from June 8th to the 12th. Drones powered by Intel software performed a choreographed routine in sync to the Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony played by the Sydney Youth Orchestra.
Though Vivid 2016 has already concluded, you can register to volunteer at the 2017 celebration now. Don’t just be amongst the crowd of over 2 million visitors and growing! Preparations are already underway, so if you want to be in the mix as soon as possible, there is no better time to start.
Vivid Sydney Official Website: http://www.vividsydney.com/