Event Review: Vivid Sydney 2014

Now in it’s sixth year, VIVID – Sydney’s annual light festival – needed to step it up for 2014. Although there’s nothing wrong with taking the time to paint our already gorgeous city in colour, we wanted to see more than a flood of fluorescent selfies on Instagram. Read on to see some of the ways VIVID offered us more than just a visual feast this year. *Photography by Paula Mijares.

Event Review - Vivid Sydney 2014

Apologies for starting on a nerdy note here, but I honestly hadn’t really stopped to think about the technical prowess that goes into projecting 3D animated art-forms onto our most iconic buildings – particularly when the surface isn’t completely flat.

Vivid Sydney 2014

The standout this year was the ‘Urban Tree Project’ who had the tricky task of illuminating our MLC building in such a way that seamlessly curved the light around its contours using four strategically placed projectors. The Urban Tree was also “alive” – it started as nothing and grew its wooden limbs, sprouted its flowers and shook its leaves in Sydney’s crisp night air.

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The art installations at VIVID were not the sort where you sit back and passively absorb the aesthetics. Customs House became ‘Play Me’, an interactive building projection that allowed you to select an instrument on the touch-screen below and create a musical light sculpture with the building as your canvas.

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In Martin Place, you could smile for the ‘e|MERGEnce’ webcam and it would map your face onto a 1.6m head sculpture. And if the idea that computers could become self-aware freaked you out, you would have had mixed feelings about Toyota’s ‘Cars That Feel’ project, with cars designed to respond to human interaction… Technology, huh?

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Have you ever wondered how a small start-up business goes from concept, to funding, to success? Or what the differences are in producing a large-scale movie blockbuster versus an indie film? Have you ever wanted to lock Flume or Karen Walker in a room to pick their brains about their approach to their craft?

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This year, VIVID Live gave us the opportunity to attend talks, mini-conferences and masterclasses exploring these issues (and more) with an impressive line-up of guest speakers from all over the creative world. Not just a pretty face, VIVID was also a forum for exploring ideas around new technological trends, creative success and the invasion of art into our urban spaces.

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Listening to James Vincent McMorrow sing ‘Gold’, in our Opera House, lit up all pretty-like during VIVID, is quite simply one of the best things I’ve experienced in a long time. During the set, his haunting and powerful falsetto was punctuated with his charming Irish giddiness about how unbelievable it was to be in Sydney. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that the city was buzzing with energy and light!

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As Sydney-siders, we do tend to suffer the tyranny of distance when it comes to enticing musicians to our shores. This year, however, VIVID drew in the likes of The Pixies, The Presets, St Vincent, and for the more old-school crowd, The Pet Shop Boys and Lauryn Hill – no kidding!

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I must admit, the fountain was pretty cool. It went by the name of the ‘VIVID Aquatique’ and it was a wall of illuminated water. It was synchronised to a pop soundtrack and it “danced” to choreography dictated by a computer. Before seeing this, the concept of “water theatre” did not make sense to me, but it makes perfect sense now.

Now that it’s all over, Sydney is a little less bright. However, take comfort in the fact that VIVID continues to evolve and can only get bigger and better for next year.

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*Words by Claire Benito.
*Photography by Paula Mijares.