Every year at the onset of Australia’s winter, Sydney puts on a glittering festival of light, art, technology, music and culture: Vivid Sydney. For three weeks city streets, iconic buildings and harbor side pathways are transformed into exciting installations and events. As the public festival rounds up this week, we’re taking a look back at its shining stars. From fields of artificial fireflies to family favorites, take a look at what’s been lighting up Sydney as it commences its darker nights.
At the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s southern pylon, visitors from around the world have been stopping to watch a projection of Aboriginal Art: Eora: Broken Spear. Depicting elements of the lives and environments of the local land’s original custodians (Eora), the projections reflect hand-drawn images in white paint, in the style of traditional Aboriginal Art. Birds fly, trees stretch, and clan names appear and fade as images tell the story of an Indigenous knowledge keeper who responded to western invasion with a sign of peace: the presentation of a broken spear. The projections act as both a tribute to the region’s clans and their relationship to Harbor, as well as a call to reflection. Rhonda Roberts, The Sydney Opera House’s Head of Indigenous Programming, curated the project, with production design by The Electric Canvas.
In this famous coastal city, things don’t get much more iconic than the Sydney Opera House, and the lucrative task of projecting images onto its characteristic sails this year went to Andrew Thomas Huang, an American artist with the LA-based creative boutique BEMO. Titled the Austral Flora Ballet, Huang’s creation is a dance of floral projections, native flora blooming and morphing into fantastical forms and colors. Perhaps its most surprising element is the human movement recorded: dancer Genna Moroni provided a motion capture performance for the project, choreographed by Toogie Barcelo. The flowers jumping across the Opera House’s sails reflect her actual twirls, leaps and shapes.
Field of Light
Dutch artists Toer quickly became festival favorites this year with their Firefly Field – an installation made up of hundreds of light points that mimic the movements of real fireflies. Onlookers watch the lights hover and glow from the white picket fences that surround the field, a collection of grass, trees and light set against the impressive backdrop of Sydney’s stunning skyline. The steel rods supporting the LED light points are barely visible, meaning that every visitor can lose themselves in the calm and luminosity of these magical creatures of the night. To see for yourself, take a look at Studio Toer’s video footage of their popular project.
Australian artists Ruth McDermott and Ben Baxter’s contribution to Vivid 2019 is Torrent, an installation made up of swirling eucalyptus branches that seek to represent the increase in extreme weather events, something Australia is all too familiar with. The inclusion of LED lighting illuminating the branches in different colors is designed to represent floodwaters; the impending effects of climate change on nature physically loom over each passer-by. But the installation is also beautiful; the textures, movements and colors of the branches remind us of the importance of protecting nature not just for the sake of humanity’s survival, but also to preserve its undeniable majesty.
Innovative installation Let It Snow has turned heads this year by achieving the impossible – bringing the snow to Sydney! Of course, this ‘snow’ has arrived in the form of an installation, an interactive space made up of snowflake-like light bulbs that move as the wind blows and people wander. As visitors stroll, play and touch through the path of flake shapes, they become immersed in a mix of the real and the virtual, the spontaneous and calculated. The project was created by urban designer Jing Li, with support from Lawrence Liang and Richard Nuget as part of Conybeare Morrison International.
As art becomes more and more interactive, it’s exciting to see how access to a traditionally exclusive industry can be opened to the wider public, with art being shared across cultures and continents. To learn more about Vivid Sydney, visit the festival’s website, and mark it on your calendars for a trip Down Under next year!
To invest in similar art on Singulart, consider the bright, conceptual works from Dangerous Minds Artists along with Jan Kuck’s neon installations.
Cover Image: Vivid Sydney 2019 Preview. Royal Botanic Gardens. 20th May 2019. Photograph Dallas Kilponen.