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Sydney May – June 2016 (15 photos)

This is Part 5 of my 8 part VIVID Sydney 2016 series.

Apart from the major light installations, many smaller ones are on display around the city, mostly arranged so that it is easy to walk from one to another. Many of these are interactive and add to the festival atmosphere. Let’s take a random walk to see some of these…

Tectonic by Sean Virili, Justin Hartany, Matt Fung and Jamie Bastoli. Tonic water, bottles and elbow grease are the key ingredients to powering this beautiful and sustainable lighting installation suspended above a Sydney laneway. The constantly moving, luminescent form is constructed of 1500 upcycled PET bottles filled with tonic water. The quinine in the tonic interacts with invisible ultraviolet rays to emit a glowing blue light at night. The presence of any airflow provides a subtle oscillation for the sculpture.

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The photo above shows two light installations.

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In the background is Geometrics by Simon Aitken. Here, 32 moving lights are placed on a high circular truss; working in unison the lights create dazzling effects, projecting columns of light into the night and forming whimsical decorative shapes and strong pattern designs. Seen from a distance the apparently suspended form of the Geometrics light sculpture certainly delivers a ‘wow’ factor, but for those gazing up from beneath, there is a more intimate light show.

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In the foreground is Fountain by Ample Projects, S1T2, and the National Institute of Dramatic Art which will be live-streaming global birth rate data as ‘human water droplets’. These ‘water-humans’ will emerge from the Fountain’s water jets – shoot skywards, float to the ground, land on their feet and walk into the distance.

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A celebration of the fleeting human life cycle, Fountain demonstrates – in real-time – the global human birth rate as a flowing stream of humans evolving and fading in a solid stop-motion animation.

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Shadow Wall by Natalia Galin. “What can happen to a shadow when the sun disappears?” The answer is Shadow Wall, the opposite of a shadow. Not so much a wall but a vision system that subverts the concept of night-time shadows by rendering them in a blaze of colour and movement and new vibrant life. The installation uses three-dimensional mapping to capture the changing scene before it and then renders what would be dark, sinister shadows on any other wall into multicoloured silhouettes that light up as they mirror the movements of passing visitors.

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Participants interact with the wall and, through controlled movements, can have their shadows ‘perform’, pose and make shapes, or merge with the shadows of other visitors to light up the entire wall at once.

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I LOVE YOU by Selena Griffith, Edison Chen, Nila Rezaei and Nathan Adler is a giant illuminated heart-shaped ‘Love-O-Meter’. Deliberately corny and kitsch, it encourages couples to publicly declare their love by standing opposite each other on a podium and shouting ‘I LOVE YOU’ in unison, in order to fill a giant heart with as much light (love) as possible.

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Underwater Forest by mcdermottbaxter is inspired by the beautiful maritime industrial architecture in Walsh Bay. The artists were intrigued to discover that parts of this area of the harbour are up to 30 metres deep and that the wharves are supported by magnificent native Australian timbers. Constantly changing coloured light illuminates the ‘underwater forest’ that exists beneath the iconic wharves, highlighting its intricate patterns and textures.

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Osmose by Hamish Steptoe is a multi-sensory artwork that visitors experience by lying down under coloured shards of light. The changing colours of the shards evoke feelings of calmness and stillness or energy in the viewer. As they lie underneath the shards and let the light wash over them, participants also experience sounds tuned to the frequency of the colour that appears above.

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Spectrum by Jarrod Barrow transforms a part of the urban environment into a bright, engaging community space using colour, movement and a line of multicoloured rods. The rods contain lighting technology and are hinged to a specially constructed steel base. When visitors interact with the rods by tilting them just 20 degrees away from their upright position, their colours change, transitioning across the spectrum.

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In the background, the Harbour Bridge lights and city building lights were controlled at a panel near the Opera House, where people could have turns choosing what colours they wanted to use.

In the middle is Sweep by Alexandra Heaney and Julia Heaney. Sweep slowly moves with the breeze. When viewed from a distance this work provides the illusion of suspended light rods bobbing softly and gracefully from side to side, like a school of fish in a deep current; however, when viewed up close the effect is very different. Those walking through Sweep will feel confusion and a sense of intimidation as the large individual lights move ominously above and around them.

In the foreground is Attune by Jonathon Bolitho and Harry Hock. The installation features a cluster of large crystalline forms that appear to grow from the ground; each ‘crystal’ is highly reactive and pulses with colour, light and sound in response to the voices and conversations of visitors.

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Infinity Box by E-Lux Lighting Design is a large unassuming box with a discrete doorway. The question is: “What’s in the box?” The answer is found by stepping through darkness into a never-ending world of pattern and light aided by mirrors to create an infinite pattern. I stood directly in front of the mirror and waited for the right moment. Savour this moment, folks. You may never see a clear full frontal selfie of me again. 😉

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Horizon by Indermühle + Indexmühle. The installation presents as a painting of an arid central-desert landscape, reaching into the distance like a mirage. The sense of horizon is captured by a series of vertical lights, lined up along the wall and which graduate in colour from blue to reds and oranges. The sandstone blocks of the wall lend warm rich tones and texture and the illusion of a vibrant blue sky reaches deep into the night and reminds the viewer that there is a natural beauty to the unique light of this country.


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This is Part 5 of my 8 part VIVID Sydney 2016 series.

All of my photography from this series and previous years of VIVID Sydney going back to 2012 can be found here:
VIVID Sydney page

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

VIVID 2016: A Random Light Walk


54 thoughts on “VIVID 2016: A Random Light Walk

  1. LaVagabonde says:

    That’s a perfect selfie of you lurking in the shadows. So many light habitats for so many different personalities. The crowd shot at the end put me off ever going to one of these light festivals in person, though. Thankfully, I’ve got your photos. 😀

    • Thanks. Yes, I knew that was the right place for a selfie. 🙂
      That last one was on a Saturday night, after the previous weekend was completely washed out by storms so I guess the crowd was larger than expected. Also the Gardens section with the Cathedral of Light was a relatively enclosed area so only limited numbers could go in. However, I completely understand that crowds are a deterrent to many people.

  2. Lots of installations in this series, Dragon. So much to see this year. Didn’t know elbow grease had a place in an exhibition. I will never look at it the same way again 🙂 Those water humans actually look life-like to be honest. Sort of makes me want to jump forward and catch them. Looking forward to part 6. Crisp low light photography as always. Ace.

  3. Thanks for so many wonderful posts(photos and descriptions)! I really enjoy them. I wish we have a similar exhibition here.
    Question: was that you in the photo after selfie? Same jacket, I think. 😉
    Have a wonderful day.

    • Thank you very much.

      All the photos are taken by me. Only the selfie one was taken in a mirror, so none of the other photos show me at all. Sorry to disappoint. 😉 🙂 🙂

  4. Remarkable night photos! Don’t know how you captured the colors and details so beautifully. I like the first one especially, and the design of the fountain is brilliant.
    Thank you for the awesome post, Dragon!

  5. There’s one thing I can’t help noticing with this post and a lot of your light festival posts, the way we can all interact with lights these days. Gone are the days when pretty coloured lights were to be admire from the distance. We are a lot more like moths than we prefer to admit – we love light, we are drawn to light, and now it seems we can play with it! 😀

    Thanks for taking us on an unforgettable light trip, I find it very interesting all these events around the world. WordPress can be such an education, more so than I ever got at school, and certainly a hell of lot more enjoyable! 🙂

    How do you take these night pictures? I’m guessing you don’t use a tripod (tripods are soooo not practical) so I’m wondering how do you eliminate camera shake? But maybe that’s a silly question, perhaps it’s just the settings and quality of camera? My camera on my phone loves contrasts of light and dark together, but not so good in overall low light, gets a little too grainy for my liking Your pictures are always sharp, so impressive! 🙂

    • Your analogy about moths is right and I think that’s why the Cathedral of Light in my first post of this series was such a success. But more than bright lights, we need to be fascinated and have interaction and this is why many of the smaller exhibits work so well.

      I carry a tripod at all times during the festival and if the subject is still, such as the Opera House, this is the best way to shoot. But in a crowd I hand hold and shoot. You need to be able to control your ISO and Shutter Speed in this situation to get the best shots. I put the ISO to the highest I can before the noise becomes an issue and the shutter speed to at least 1/100s to avoid camera shake and freeze motion.

    • Thank you. Watch out world if ever I were made the creative director of Vivid. You’d probably be able to see the atomic glow from your garden. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. LB says:

    How wonderful that so many of the installations are interactive, and that people can learn from them. You’ve really made me see and feel the festival atmosphere! Looking forward to the next post

    • Thank you for the encouragement. Engagement is a key to people enjoying the sights. My next post entitled Zootopia deals with exhibits that came with an educational and environmental message.

  7. la fantasia e la profondità dei temi trattati riesce a rendere ancora più eclatante questa grande festa di luci e di arte!
    davvero complimenti per le tue foto e per questa strabiliante sequenza

  8. Fabulous night photography,incredible light effects and festivities,Draco.Your intoductory image with the illuminated blues is gorgeous.Are they the 1500 upcycled PET bottles?

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