Monday, June 13, 2011

Vivid Sydney 2011

This year, Vivid Sydney took place from May 27 to June 13. As I missed it last year, I happily joined Jocelyn, a Photography Club friend of hers and her brother to the city to be part of the event.

As the Southern Hemisphere's largest festival of light, music and ideas, Vivid celebrates and showcases the creative genius that is right here in Sydney, as well as extends an invitation to the world's best creatives to unleash their talent on buildings and the harbourside.

Vivid's lights go on every night from 6:00pm. From just about every vantage point on the foreshore, I could see the spectacular lighting of the Sydney Opera House sails. The World Heritage-listed icon permits bespoke lighting only for very special occasions and the annual Vivid Sydney festival is one of them. It is an image that is screened around the world and this year, the high-profile installation called Lighting the Sails is by French design collective, Superbien. We actually started from the back of the Opera House - the smaller sail:



Then, after an embarrassing discovery of where the stairs were, we went to the front part of the sails:



How cool is that colourful stingray (or jellyfish?)!?!


Love the reaction of the kids in the video. Honestly, I was very impressed with it myself. I was wondering how they managed to get all those lights onto the building until I turned around and saw this:


Ah, so that's where the shots are called. Apparently, they used the technique of projection-mapping, which maps video onto the actual shapes of the sails to create a 3D-like effect. That is one hell of a powerful projector they have there!

With over 40 stunning light art installations from local and international artists in a free outdoor exhibition where children are encouraged to climb on interactive sculptures and aspiring photographers can put their night camera settings to the test, the whole city is bursting with life despite the cold! I did not get to see all 40 but I did cover the few that were situated along the foreshore of Circular Quay.

One of them was C/C by Singaporean artist, Angela Chong.



This futuristic and functional sculpture is made from acrylic sheets fashioned into this public chair. It is illuminated by night with low energy, colour changing LED lights to bring its playfulness to light. The work uses light to blur the lines between reality and imaginary fiction.

Further down was Positive Attracts by Singaporean architect and sculptor Edwin Cheong. He is an environmental, kinetic, light-art artist, educator and writer. He holds a Master of Architecture and is a design and art lecturer. His interest in three-dimensional arts sees him work with broad scope furniture, landscape and sculpture. He is the celebrated creator of Singapore’s 33ft tall Youth Olympic Games Commemorative Sculpture.


We got to interact with our 'Heroes' up close to bask in their positive energy. These life size light statues had Infra Red sensors to detect when you are in close range and trigger their LED lighting effect. The artist wanted the rainbow waves of colour to charge us, the spectators, with doses of optimism. We got to guess the real life heroes they are named after from the quotes at the base of the statues, like this one:


This was my personal favourite. Do you know who said this? No? Well, it was Steven Spielberg.

Just next to this was Melody by Sun Yu-Li. He is one of Singapore’s most notable sculpture artists of the past 20 years. His celebrated 12-metre high steel work “Harmony”, created in 2001, symbolizes China-Singapore close relations and is featured on national stamps and minted coins of both countries. Sun Yu-li’s work inquires into the origin of aesthetics, putting solid form to the conscious moment.


Melody implied the rhyme of the Sydney Harbour in Circular Quay and the music emanating from the Sydney Opera House as part of the magical precinct it was located in. This free flowing ribbon form, beamed light from inside and invited admirers to touch, sit and walk through its perforated stainless steel sculptural frame to enjoy the ambience.

A few steps away was Light Wave Action by a local Aussie team from Haron Robson’s lightmatters®. Multi-lighting design award winner Bow Jaruwangsanti, from Thailand, industrial designer and illumination student Kristy Philp from Fiji and design engineer Christa Van Zoeren from the Netherlands used their diverse backgrounds, both cultural and technical, to promote a rich collaborative effort for sharing ideas and considering solutions from varying perspectives.


We got to wander through this wave-like sculpture for a multi-sensory experience, inspired by nature, reflecting the subtle colour of twilight skies and paying homage to the sea – representing nature’s power in the movement and formation of waves. The artists used the interplay of lighting and form with low energy LED to reflect on the subtle and emotive performance of nature.

32 Hundred Lighting, founded by Iain Reed, is one of Australia’s most innovative event lighting and audio companies responsible for many big profile events, from fashion shows to charity events to Sydney New Year’s Eve installations. For this year's Vivid, they put together Skyscraper Illuminati, where they theatrically transformed Sydney’s Circular Quay's five buildings with illuminations coordinated with next generation animated lighting. Cast Lighting effects ‘conversed’ across Circular Quay Railway Station, Gateway, Sydney Harbour Marriott;


and Four Seasons Hotel Sydney to form one large canvas and presented a regular 20-minute show, created through a wireless IP network to show the very latest in low energy LED colour lighting technology.




This was my favourite part of the evening: Unfamiliar Customs by The Electric Canvas, an award-winning Australian company recognised internationally as a leader in architectural projections. The company has worked on prestigious projects worldwide presenting immersive projections using large-format filmstrip and high-powered digital projection. The in-house art department is known for their creation of dynamic, theatrical experiences.



Cool right?! I was so amazed! The installation was created entirely on a virtual model using computers driven by the visibly smart 2nd Generation Intel® CoreTM processors. Customs House literally appeared from sand as the projections both celebrated and sometimes mocked the iconic architecture in a playful creation reflecting its 160 years standing on the shore of Sydney Harbour.

On the other side of the quay stood three cute jellyfish-looking light sculptures. French lighting designer Pascal Petitjean, co-creator of Lighting Balloons, teamed with Australian film light expert Simon Lee and Singapore architect Aamer Taher to create Jellight. Petitjean has been involved with projects such as The Titanic and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Lee has been involved with lighting films including Moulin Rouge, King Kong, Australia and Avatar. Taher trained at London’s School of Architecture and is a council member of the Singapore Institute of Architects.


Jellight giant jellyfish floated magically above the harbour in this film-like installation. The artists created these imaginative light Jellies to be imagined as floating away from Earth. The sculptural, eliptical light balloons depicted jellyfish departing the polluted oceans to escape into the universe as ‘reverse UFOs’. The colourful light emanated from the robust lighting balloons, producing 360-degree non-glare light sources. Due to the massive crowd, I could not take get close enough to take better pictures.

As we walked past the Overseas Passenger Terminal, The Light Wheel, by local lighting designers Andre Kecskes & Mark Hammer, animated itself and cycled through its colour spectrum with pulses and ripples with clever LED lamps that created a mass of moving patterns. The sculpture ran entirely off one 10amp outlet using just LED technology.


Hammer lit the Harbour Bridge for its 75th anniversary and has been the lighting designer of the Sydney New Year’s Eve Bridge Effect since 2008. Kecskes specialises in large-scale event lighting design, as well as private events, such as the Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban wedding.

We were just in time for the FireDance, an incredible performance of dancing flames that used 40 jets of flame higher than a three-story house that exploded five times a night every night of Vivid Sydney. Choreographed to music using the same technology that controls the Harbour Bridge fireworks every New Year’s Eve, FireDance featured two different shows, alternating between each other on the eighteen incendiary nights of Vivid Sydney.

The spectacle of dancing fire in this intimate harbour arena erupted every hour from 7:00pm for six to seven minutes as the firejets flared and flamed in a choreographed balletic performance to the magic of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite


and the Katy Perry hit Firework, remixed by renowned artist Pee Wee Ferris.


FireDance used a pressurised non-toxic hydrocarbon liquid in its firejets, and its warmth could be felt literally tens of metres away. It was warm even from where I was standing! FireDance was produced and created by Howard & Sons, a fourth-generation family business and leading exponents of flame-projector technology.

Well, since we were on the other side of the Opera House, we had a bigger picture view of the entire show, which called for a video-taking session!


We capped the night by walking the night market over at The Rocks, where we stumbled upon illuminate by Daniel Mercer and Richard Neville. Richard is a young Australian lighting designer whose work spans professional theatre, concert, television, dance party, recital and corporate projects around the world. Richard has collaborated with Daniel – one of the founding directors of Australian lighting and visual design company Mandylights - and Alex Grieson, a young creative designer.


illuminate drew on the collective power of numerous tiny, highly efficient light sources in creating this appealing lighting design using less power than the existing lights for The Rocks Square. Some 140 hanging tubes were filled with individually controllable LEDs producing 9000 pixels of light, re-lighting this space with continuously changing colours and patterns.

Next year, I am going to make sure that I get to see all the sculptures. And so, I would have to be properly prepared - must look up website prior to going and have warmer clothing!

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