Sunday, June 10, 2012


Sydney's three year old Vivid Festival, designed to liven up the winter months and boost tourism, has, to my mind at least, been essentially musical (think Brian Eno, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson). This year it seems the talk is very much about the lightingI've finally made it into town to catch some of the buzz. And quite buzzy it is, at least down by the Quay, which is all I managed to see.

We had dinner for six at one of the east Quay-side restaurants, then a subscription concert, and then best of all, a quiet half hour next to the Opera House, the air clear and crisp, before driving down to the country for the long weekend, the night getting colder and darker, a million stars overhead.

The crowds were pretty thick, weaving in and out, with lots of tourists (or at least lots of Asian faces, they seem particularly drawn to light shows) and everyone very smiley. There was the usual stuff - regular street lights now coloured, buildings used a flat screens for colour and movement (getting a bit tired these days), the giant chandelier from the Traviata on the harbour now a gaudy drag queen pink suspended somewhere 'over there', fun street installations with heaps of photo ops, but most special of all was the German's Urbanscreen projections onto the Opera House. Their thoughtful and well considered, and very clever, lighting effects put the rest of the city into stark superficial relief. Not that the other wasn't fun, or entertaining, or eye-catching, especially for children of whom there were many, rugged up and loving being up late in the big city.

It was just that the slow moving, and site specific, effects on the great sails were subtly compelling. It took a moment or three to slow down and connect with what was happening. Soon it was difficult to leave, as figures slid across and over the sails, and tiles peeled off, holes opened and closed, and the building itself rippled and trembled. It was, dare I say, extremely sophisticated. I wish I'd had more time, and been able to go back, with something other than an i-phone. But see the video. These snaps give the merest hint of some of the effects.

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