Sydney May – June 2017 (17 photos)

This is part 5 of my VIVID Sydney 2017 series of posts.

There were more than 70 different light installations for this year’s VIVID festival and many of the smaller ones were spread out away from the main location of the Sydney Opera House, creating an overall theme park kind of atmosphere. Following are a few of the smaller installations which I found interesting.

Urban Tree 2.0
Artists: Ample Projects

Urban Tree 2.0 transforms the sculptural form of the Commercial Travellers Association building in Martin Place into a giant luminous canvas for transient projections and animations that take viewers deep within an ecosystem. Rivers flow, plant life grows and each night a glowing frog succeeds in catching his dinner. This work gives viewers a unique glimpse of the interdependent creatures and habitats on our delicate and beautiful Earth.

Artists: Motti+Smith & Paper Moose

A magical display of rippling ghost-like scrims and ribbons recreating the majesty of our ‘Southern Lights’, the Aurora Australis.

Landscape of the Mind
Artists: Black Dog Institute & amigo and amigo

Landscape of the Mind is a sculpture that explores deeply personal experiences of anxiety — what it feels like and what helps — through body map drawings, charting experiences, emotions and physical sensations that may be difficult to express verbally. This enables individuals to express their personal experience of anxiety in a way that shows its debilitating effects without stigmatising the condition.

The body maps presented in Landscape of the Mind were drawn by participants in a research study conducted by Professor Katherine Boydell and her team at the Black Dog Institute, an organisation that studies, diagnoses, and helps to moderate mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

To build awareness and empathy for sufferers, curator Natalie Robinson facilitated the creation of a series of life-sized human forms and integrated the body maps by etching them into transparent acrylic panels; these are lit with different colours to highlight how anxiety can impact parts of the body.

She uses the body maps as a way of telling stories whose significance can only be understood in relation to the creator’s overall story and experience. In Landscape of the Mind each body map artwork can be viewed individually, but by looking through all the assembled transparent panels the viewer can see the layers of collective experience.

Under My Umbrella
Artists: Beam Collective

Under My Umbrella invites you to dream and dance under a glowing canopy as it sways gently in the wind. The canopy is made up of a mass of magical umbrellas that dim and glow as you dance beneath them. This whimsical installation also casts a sea of stars on the laneway below, enveloping dancers in light.

Artist: HATCH

Tidal creates a narrative of sound and light that weaves above the city streets and captures the tides of change that have so relentlessly transformed the city.

The 3D installation draws on real-time tidal data and sampling audio to present scenarios that range from the hustle and bustle of Circular Quay, to the beauty and nature of Bradley’s Head; woven throughout are stories of the city’s landscape, history and architecture.

Artists: The Buchan Group

Portholes captures the viewing experience of explorers as they peer through the windows of their ‘capsule’, to marvel at the furthest reaches of the Earth – and beyond…

Artist: Benjamin Jay Shand

Parallax is inspired by the qualities of stalactites cladding the upper limits of a cave ceiling. As light elements hang from the canopy above, a very slight horizontal movement complements the strong vertical elements of the sculpture. Each ‘stalactite’ also glows with an illuminated pulse.

A void at the centre of the sculpture contributes to its dynamism by creating opportunities for an immersive, human-scale experience: participants interact with the sculpture as programs shift to modulate luminosity in line with audience engagement and interaction and to limit output when pedestrian traffic slows.

Artists: CREATE

Crystallise is a sprawling, lighting-mural landscape, comprising multicoloured triangles and diamonds.

At first glance, the installation appears to be a mosaic, although randomly generated colours and patterns gradually allow viewers to see different forms within its surface. As participants come into close proximity with the mural, sections of the canvas fade, leaving behind only a pair of wings.

This artwork is inspired by the works of LA street artist Colette Miller.

Light Waves
Artists: Indermühle + Indermühle

Light Waves is an electrifying curtain of brilliantly-coloured light that illuminates the harbour on cold winter nights. The rich vibrancy of light reminds us of the ever-present life that exists on, around and under Sydney Harbour. The lights lie partially submerged in the moving water and appear to dance on the waves.


This is Part 5 of my VIVID Sydney 2017 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 2017: A random walk down light street


50 thoughts on “Vivid 2017: A random walk down light street

  1. Another brilliant expression of this mesmerizing and incredibly creative light show, Draco. I found each photo a delight. Your descriptions are really well-written and give a thorough explanation of the nearly unexplainable. And your photos are true art, capturing vibrant light at night, and the people at the show. I like how you have demonstrated the interaction of people–the woman next to the wings, different individuals looking up, engaged faces at Potholes. The Sydney Harbour is the most active, beautiful, inspiring harbor in the world. Another incredible post, thank you.

    • Thank you very much, Jet. It’s a pleasure to bring these photos to you here. I guess Vivid is kind of like an amusement park made of light. Everyone seems to enjoy being there.

  2. Heide says:

    What creative and inventive works. I love especially how some of them (like “Parallax” and “Crystallize”) invite the viewer to engage. But even the static works are spectacular — as are your photos! You really captured the magic of these installations.

    • Interactive exhibits are becoming more prevalent and people appreciate the fun that provides. It also allows for greater photographic potential. 🙂

      Thank you very much. I do enjoy photographing at Vivid.

  3. Your photos are beautifully putting the vivid in the “Vivid Sydney” experience. I have always loved the hanging umbrella installations in various cities, but to see them lit up in Sydney is certainly magical.

    • That installation stood out as a crowd favourite this year. Apparently you could even download an app to control and choreograph the lights of the umbrellas individually.

  4. J.D. Riso says:

    An interesting blend this time. I like the Urban Trees, though they remind me more of mushrooms than trees. 😉 The installation about anxiety is really great, at least for raising awareness. It’s difficult for people to empathize with the condition unless they’ve experienced it.

    • Yes, raising awareness and removing the stigma is a key important issue. It’s great that this was designed by the Black Dog Institute, a research institute that aims to reduce the incidence of mental illness and the stigma around it, to actively reduce suicide rates and empower everyone to live the most mentally healthy lives possible. I found it very interesting.

  5. What a lovely way to spend an evening. 🙂 🙂 I especially like the Landscape of the Mind shots with the fuzzy background of the bridge. Wishing you another good week!

  6. robert87004 says:

    I love those umbrellas! Any one who can make high tech look/feel familiar and comfortable gets my vote.

    Also, excellent images throughout the entire series. 😀

    • What’s more, you could download an app to your phone and control/choreograph the umbrella lights according to your whim. I didn’t see anyone doing that whist I was there, though. 🙂

  7. It is amazing how large and larger than life these exhibits are each year. Parrallax gives me a bit of vertigo, just from the way you shot it 😊 Great low light photos.

    • Thanks. There are many returning artists, trying to come up with something different each year, better than the last. A lot of creativeness is on display.

      Parallax was one of those where you absolutely had to look up. 🙂

    • Those umbrellas were down a small alley. As soon as I saw them I just had to walk down to them, then return another night. Some installations just have a wow factor. 🙂

  8. LB says:

    Oh no, I’m behind on your annual series about these light installations. I’ve been absent from WP for a bit and am on a mission to catch up with several bloggers.
    I have to say that I love the relative simplicity of Under My Umbrella.
    And in that last image, which shows the crowds of people, captures the excitment of this annual light show.
    Oh to be there sometime!

  9. Hello Mr LD. I visited Sydney AFTER Vivid for a conference, also missed Bangarra which started after I left. So I am going to go through all your Vivid images on the big screen with my wife instead. Thanks for this public service every year 🙂

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