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10 Things You Have To See At Vivid Sydney Before It Finishes On Monday

Vivid Sydney from 2100 feet by James Morgan

The free Vivid Sydney light festival, which has made Sydney’s CBD astonishing beautiful over the last fortnight, ends next Monday, June 9.

There are six key sites to visit around the harbour foreshore, with lights on between 6pm and midnight every evening. Don’t forget the North Sydney side, along with Darling Harbour, Walsh Bay and Martin Place and 50 installations to see, along with the impressive building projections, including the Sydney Opera House.

You could spend all night travelling around the city, or break it into a couple of evenings, but it is easier after about 9.30pm, when the families start to go home. And Walsh Bay seems to be less populated than around Circular Quay.

But if you have limited time, here are BI’s top 10 picks. If there’s a theme that runs across many of the works chosen, it’s that they’re interactive with the audience, adding to the delight and pleasure.

1. Play Me by Danny Rose, Customs House.

This wonderful interactive work projected on the ornate sandstone of Customs House is the love child of karaoke and jazzercise. A ‘conductor’ influences the projections, with the music ranging from the glorious ditty featured here to a more Latin salsa style. You can just sit and watch, but there’s actually an outdoors bar, so a few beers or wines makes it even more enjoyable.

2. Mirrorball Heart by George Savoulis & Ignatius Jones, next to the MCA. Circular Quay

Festival director Ignatius Jones pays homage to popular Australian culture in this mash of Sydney’s Mardi Gras and Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom in this resurrection of Jones’ Mardi Gras parade float. Jump onto the LED disco dance floor and shake your booty to JPY singing ‘Love is in the air’. Photo: James Horan.

3. Starry Night by Brad Miller. Walsh Bay

Be your own master of the universe: this delightful interactive installation uses sensors and cameras to render the likenesses of random passers-by in stars. Or you can stand there, waving your arms about, rearranging ‘galaxies’ generated by an algorithm based on Navier-Stokes equations, a mathematical calculation that describes the motion of fluid substances. Just awesome. Photo: Simon Thomsen.

4. Mystery of Creation (Fragments of the Seasons) by Heinz Kasper, Robert Faidner, Lea Nagano. The Rocks

This beautiful, slowly evolving meditation on the seasons is described as a ‘poem of light and sound’. Projected against 198-year-old Cadman’s Cottage, Sydney’s oldest surviving residential building, you watch flowers blossom and wilt, leaves grow, change colour and blow away to composer Robert Faidner’s ambient music. Stay a while. Photo: Simon Thomsen.

5. LOL by Luke Hespanhol. Walsh Bay.

This is proof that laughter really is infectious: 10 fitness balls float in the harbour, with the image of a human mouth projected on them. They respond to an audience. When left alone, they’re ‘bored’ and occasionally whistle, but tentatively laugh as you get closer. The longer you stay, the more noise you make, the more ‘fun’ they have, laughing more loudly and for longer. Every hour on the hour, they burst into song. It’s funny. Photo: Simon Thomsen

6. e|MERGEnce by The Buchan Group. Martin Place

This giant head is both pretty and a bit freaky when it sticks your face on it via a video feed. But it’s seriously cool too and the kids love it. Photo: Brett Hemmings.

7. The Pool, by Jen Lewin, next to the MCA. Circular Quay

One of the prettiest works in Vivid, Jen Lewin’s sculpture is like a giant lilly pond, with more than 100 interactive circular platforms that change colour and ripple with light as you walk on them, sensing where you place your feet, how heavily you land, and how quickly you leap and bound. It’s just heaps of fun. Photo: Brett Hemmings.

8. TetraBIN by Steven Bai and Sam Johnson. Circular Quay

This is so simple and so cool and if it was on every bin in the city, the world would be a tidier place. TetraBIN lights up when you drop rubbish in it, and in a mimic of an old-school computer game, tracks the rubbish in shape and size. It gets interesting because there’s a game component: you have to rubbish into the bin at the right moment to advance the game. It’s designed by two Sydney Uni design computing graduates. Photo: Simon Thomsen.

9. Aquatique. Darling Harbour

Inspired by French King Louis XIV’s ‘Water Garden’ at Versailles – although it reminds me of the Marina Bay Sands show in Singapore – French company Aquatique Show International created this computer-controlled spectacle featuring four giant water screens, large-format video projections, colour lasers and fireworks. Shows are every hour on the hour from 6pm until 11pm, with an extra show on Saturday at 8.30pm. Photo: Brett Hemmings.

10. Bit.fall. Martin Place


A lucky few may have seen German artist Julius Popp’s Bit.fall at the MONA in Hobart. One of the world’s biggest alcohol companies, Kirin, has appropriated the idea for a pop up bar in Martin Place. It showers down walls of words sourced from new website feeds as they trend, audience-generated comments (you have to tweet mentioning the sponsor’s product) and whatever else brand-related guff the marketing department determines needs to be there. It’s magical nonetheless.

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