A visit to VIVID


What is it about humans and light? We all laugh at moths when they relentlessly circle a candle, and yet the same thing is seen around a bonfire at a campground with people!

In 1879 somewhere between 70,000 and 100,000 people flocked to Blackpool in England to watch 8 electric street lamps being turned on for the first time, and people still make the pilgrimage each year to see the now thousands of lights turned on. If we admit it, fireworks make us all feel like excited little children again and everyone loves a Christmas lights display! People seem to be just as attracted to light as moths are.

The screaming wall of lights.

It should be no surprise then when a trip to Sydney’s winter lights festival ‘Vivid’ reveals that a quarter of the city seem to have also decided that this was THE night to pop down and take a peek at the lights. Apparently even the opening night this year had just as many spectators as the closing night last year did.

Vivid is in it’s fourth year and although its highlight is the light displays across buildings like the Opera House, the MCA and Customs House as well as the art installations around circular quay it also includes performances by local and international musicians and public talks and debates from leading global creative thinkers.

Chandelier in the harbour.

I went down to have a look at the lights on the 8th. We started our night with dinner opposite the Opera House which this year had animated people rolling over it’s sails. As my Aunt said, it looked like her Pilate’s class.

Pilate’s on the Opera House.
The majority of the installations are around Circular Quay although they do stretch around to Walsh Bay. There are chandeliers hanging in the harbour, rotating disco cubes, pedal powered fluorescent wings, a huge wall of noughts and crosses and even a wall of bright bright lights covered by flaps which lifted when you screamed at them.
Rotating disco cube.
We made it as far as the Argyle Cut where we found that the roof of the tunnel had been lit with a constantly blooming and wilting procession of roses and sunflowers. Even in that dark corner of the city there were a group of people just standing gaping in silence at the roof.
Flowers in the Argyle Cut.

The best part however was the big buildings. The MCA had a constantly shifting pattern of bright lights moving to the music. This was truly spellbinding and here the crowed was thickest. Too bad if you had somewhere in particular to go because people were just stopped still in front of the museum staring.

Various patterns of the MCA.
The other big building was the Customs house. The projections on it told a story of a day in a city. From sun up to sun down we followed a cartoon man as he woke up, went to work, fixed a clock and went home. If you haven’t seen it, it is hard to describe how the projections fit the building so that it is hard to believe that the show isn’t just being projected onto a blank screen. It should be seen to be believed!
Customs house.
Sadly however, tonight, the 11th is the last night of Vivid for this year. If you did not get to see it, put it in your diary for next year! If you did, how did you like it? Let me know in the comments!
Pedal powered wings.

 

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