Vivid Sydney 2019: Only a Few Days Left

Catch what you can of this 23-day intersection of art, technology, and commerce before the lights go out on Saturday.

Inspired by Australia’s native plants, L.A.-based filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang’s “Austral Flora Ballet” illuminates the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House with a projected artwork of dancing digital sculptures.

Under a starry Australian sky 134 meters above the darkened waters of the world’s largest natural harbor, speakers pump out a looping soundtrack of classic pop hits as climbers in matching jumpsuits and safety harnesses shimmy on a flashing LED-lit dance floor at the apex of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, oblivious to the stream of traffic far below. Welcome to the Vivid Climb—BridgeClimb Sydney’s nightly contribution to the fun and festivities of Vivid Sydney.

Admiring “A Kaleidoscopic Tale,” which illuminates more than 3,000 LED lights on the Ferris Wheel at Luna Park.

An annual celebration of music, light, and ideas, Vivid has all but wrapped up its eleventh edition, which began on May 24 and runs until June 15. So if you happen to be anywhere near Australia’s largest city this week, be sure to check it out. The nighttime festival (most attractions light up between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.) is spread across eight waterfront precincts in Sydney—Barangaroo, Chatswood, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Luna Park, the Royal Botanic Garden, and Taronga Zoo—and has featured a series of compelling seminars and debates (American film director Spike Lee appeared at Sydney Town Hall on June 1 to discuss issues of race in the media and Hollywood) alongside musical performances by the likes of British alt-rock pioneers The Cure and, of course, spectacular light artworks, which are arguably Vivid’s biggest draw.

Sydney-based artist Claudia Nicholson has created a romantic homage to her birth country of Colombia in “Let Me Down,” which is projected onto the art deco facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

With the city’s streets and architectural landmarks as their canvas, artists from around the world have created outdoor galleries of more than 50 light installations and projections. These range from Los Angeles–based experimental filmmaker Andrew Thomas Huang’s Austral Flora Ballet, which illuminates the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House with a projected artwork of dancing digital sculptures inspired by Australia’s native plants; to Australian-Columbian artist Claudia Nicholson’s animated cycle of creation, destruction, and regeneration beamed onto the art deco facade of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

“Firefly Field” at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is a mesmerizing installation of more than 500 flying light points that simulate the movements of fireflies.

On a grassy slope in the Royal Botanic Garden, Firefly Field is a mesmerizing installation of hundreds of flying light points that mimic the movements of these nocturnal insects, while Robot SPACEland in Darling Harbour is centered on a 16-meter high robot made entirely from crushed cars.

Customs House in the Circular Quay area becomes an aquatic wonderland in “Under the Harbour” by Spinifex Group.

Argyle Cut, a heritage-listed roadway tunneled through the sandstone cliffs between The Rocks and Millers Point, is where Pixar Animation Studios has been showcasing 30 years of its work through pencil drawings, paintings, and final film frames projected onto the tunnel roof; carpets of artificial grass invite passersby to lie down and take it all in. Street performers, fireworks, and pop-up food stalls add to the carnival atmosphere, particularly around Circular Quay and Barangaroo.

“River of Lights,” another light installation on the grounds of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

And then there’s BridgeClimb. One of the city’s most famous attractions, this three-plus-hour guided walk to the upper arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a must-do at any time of the year, but during Vivid, the nighttime climb is particularly thrilling, with the city center pulsating radiantly in the distance. Step out onto that sky-high dance floor and trip the light fantastic—the expression has never been more apt.

More information here.


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