I previously blogged about and recently attended Creative Sydney and Smart Light Sydney, all part of Vivid Sydney. I was going to cover them in one blog post but have decided to split it up into two since it’s so long.
Vivid Sydney ran for 3 weeks and I attended on Wednesday 10th and Sunday 15th June. I’m glad I went twice because both times were two different experiences. The first time was on a weekday night and it was absolutely freezing so suffice to say it was nowhere near as crowded as the Sunday, which is not only a weekend but the last day of the “Fire Water” performance, as well as the whole Vivid Light festival. Also, the first time I went alone and the second time I went with a friend. The second time I saw about 5-10x as many people and 3x as many photographers! I’ve never seen so many photographers in Sydney together in one place! Every man and his dog camera/tripod was there…
On the 10th I also attended Creative Sydney free talks at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). There were two sessions and in between them (I left the first one early and went to the second one late) I walked around looking for and at all the pretty light displays around The Rocks area. To my surprise there were quite a few people out and about and as mentioned, lots of photographers too. I only brought my little G9 and no tripod as I really hadn’t planned on making it a photographic excursion but in a way it turned out to be one.
I spent the whole night being really really cold. It must’ve been about 7-8ºC, but felt more like 5. Sydney normally doesn’t get this cold in June. I went to Ariel Bookstore to ‘defrost’ and have a poke around. The lady working there (who was lovely) said they are open till midnight every night. I couldn’t believe it! It was really small but had a good selection of books and a lot of art/craft/design ones too. I also passed the Ken Duncan gallery. He’s one of my favorite landscape photographers and I’ve loved his work ever since I started photography. I’m pretty sure he uses digital now but he used to use Fuji Velvia slide film (may still do!) and I tried to use this film once. That’s when I discovered I don’t like slide film. Or color film. Give me Ilford or Kodak T-Max any day. Not that I’ve used either in a long time…
Ken Duncan Gallery/shop
Smart Light Sydney (official site)
(paraphrased from the website): Smart Light Sydney showcases dynamic light art sculptures using smart technology with a free Light Walk around Sydney’s iconic harbour precinct from Sydney Observatory, around the Rocks and Circular Quay to Sydney Opera House. The Light Walk and Art Light Exhibition public art displays showcase beautiful works from light artists and designers from around Australia and internationally, including legendary musician and multimedia artist Brian Eno.
Smart Light Sydney will not only excite audiences with dozens of beautiful and atmospheric light creations, it will inspire in its innovative approaches that reduce energy consumption, reduce light wastage and revitalise urban spaces. Smart Light Sydney is also a partner of the UN International Year of Astronomy 2009, highlighting the need for darker night skies through smart lighting in cities globally.
I couldn’t really understand the map at all. I was walking around like a lost tourist with this map unfolded as a giant piece of paper. In the end I just followed other people. Because it was so cold and so dark it was hard to see where I was even going a lot of the time and for those that don’t know, the Rocks area, it is very maze-like with lots of old cobblestone steps and narrow paths everywhere. It was so dark at Observatory Hill (pitch black almost) I nearly tripped on a large tree root!
In hindsight I (unintentionally) missed some of the exhibits too… and some I saw, but didn’t take photos of.
1. Weather Projection, Observatory Hill
This was really cool, but I couldn’t capture it on camera since the images were moving. I did film some of it and if I have time I’ll put it up on YouTube.
6. Jewel box of light, Garrison Church
8. Rocklights, Argyle Cut
It was hard to take a photo here because there were cars constantly driving through but still, there was no shortage of photographers
10. Human Flags, next to Lowenbrau
This installation only worked well when you waved something (preferably a brightly colored object) in front of the projector. And like a kaleidoscope, the images changed and moved according to what was put in front of it.
14. Vessel of (horti)cultural plenty, near Overseas Passenger Terminal
This was a 3 metre high giant flowerpot (I’ve only shown the top part)
17. Ghosts of the Rocks, near Overseas Passenger Terminal
This one was blink and you’ll miss it and I nearly did (photo not that great as I took it in a hurry and didn’t lean on anything)
18. Facade, Museum of Contemporary Art
This one was amazing. The image changed every 10 seconds or so so it was easy to wait and see all the different ‘varieties’. I leaned against a pole to take the shots and I think they turned out pretty well! As I came out of the MCA (for Creative Sydney) I could feel the image being projected onto my face! Weird…
20. Luminocity/Lumenocity, outside Customs House
Lightbox sculpture which had beautiful colours of glowing white, deep purple and peach. Didn’t move or do anything but it was pretty to look at
Sydney model at Customs House. I’m not sure if it’s usually lit up in weird psychedelic colors or if it was just for the festival. In any case, the building was open really late and the model looked eerily cool. It’s actually underneath the glass floor.
22. Birds, East Circular Quay
25. Lighting the Sails, Opera House
The most spectacular at all! Brian Eno outdid himself. And the images changed in a really subtle way. In fact you couldn’t really tell when they changed as they each had several layers with transparency and were slowly overlaid on top of the previous and it was really complex, but so so pretty and breathtaking. I could have watched it all night (er.. I did. Twice!)
15. Rainbow, outside Sailors Thai
The colors changed and moved around a bit.
? I thought this was something but it doesn’t appear on the map. Argyle Stores lit up. The colors changed too.
This was a theatrical performance with a difference. It was done on water! It lasted about 40mins and they were playing three times a night for three nights (12, 13, 14th June). I went on the last night and it was a full house. So packed, which was great to see. So many families, tourists, and just ordinary Sydneysiders out and about seeing this wonderful, live, free performance. The music (which of course you can’t experience looking at the photos) was hauntingly beautiful. And of course the Harbour Bridge and Opera House backdrop was spectacular. It was the story of the convict ship Three Bees that exploded into fire. I’m glad I didn’t read about it on the website so I didn’t actually know the ship was going to go on fire, which added to the surprise element. It seemed to just come out of nowhere and literally rose out of the water. It was then set alight, which was pretty spectacular too.
I thoroughly enjoyed the performance.
The first time I took my Canon G9, the second time I borrowed my friend’s megabeast, the Canon 5D. I was a bit scared of it and to be honest I didn’t have much time to learn how to use it but I love it (except for the weight). I wonder if you can tell which photos were taken with which camera?
I love going to events like this. Because they’re free it means they are open to anyone, not just those that can afford it. So because of this you’ll meet people of all backgrounds, ages, socio-economic groups, ethnicities, etc – which I think is fantastic! Both nights I went everyone was in such a happy, jovial mood, interacting with the environment and with each other. I had such a wonderful time and being somewhat of an artist myself, I think it’s important to support other artists where possible. I mean, how would you like it if you had an exhibit (in another country no less!) and noone came to see it? You would feel pretty disappointed.
On both nights I talked to random strangers all over the place and I just had so much fun. I really enjoy living in Sydney in times like this, and I almost forgot how cold it was… luckily for me the second time wasn’t nearly as cold as the first. At the end of the first night I treated myself to a hot chocolate at the Guylian Belgian chocolate cafe. It was so nice and warm in there I could’ve fallen asleep!
More photos on my Flickr, here.
Official photos on the Smart Light website
Creative Sydney blog post coming soon…!