Vivid Sydney 2017: Part 3 – Barangaroo Sth, Kings Cross & Martin Pl

Vivid Sydney is a festival of “Light, Music & Ideas” which is run on an annual basis in Sydney. I do my best every year to visit, and this year was no exception.

What follows are the shots I took from the various precincts in operation this year. I didn’t try to visit every attraction or to photograph everything – after all, as with most pieces of art, some works resonate better with the audience than others. Some were also difficult to convey in the medium of photography, due to the rise of interactive exhibits, while others draw long queues which I couldn’t be bothered contending with. Other exhibits were named on the map, but when I arrived, they seemed to have mysteriously disappeared. Maybe I just didn’t see it – or more likely, some exhibits are really non-exhibits.

Where possible, I have attached the name of the exhibit to the posting – apologies in advance for any mix-ups. Due to the number of photos, this years’ posting will be made in three parts, separated by precinct. This is the final part, focusing on Barangaroo South, Kings Cross and Martin Place.

Barangaroo South

This is a new precinct for this year, and the facilities around the area are still being constructed. However, that being said, it was only a short walk from Darling Harbour and worth the visit.

Migration lights up the shoreline walkway with spinning patterned lights and stingray-figures hovering in the air. The deep blue looks quite amazing.

A Day in the Light is a bit of a mixed exhibit. First you enter the area bathed in mostly blue light and fog.

Then you emerge into an area of projected sharp colourful patterns. People did like the latter part as it provides an interesting backdrop for a selfie.

I had no idea what You-niverse was about, but I spotted this on my way out to Wynyard Station.

Kings Cross

Kings Cross is another new precinct, although distinctly un-Vivid-like with no assistance or crowd control. It’s more an annexe, but anyway, I decided to go. Sadly, most of the attractions were non-attractions with the exception of the Coca-Cola Billboard. As a result, the remainder of this section will be a big ad for Coke.

Martin Place

Finally, back to a more familiar place – Martin Place to be precise. It was my final stop in touring Vivid Sydney. Heading downhill, the first exhibit seems to be Twelve Tone. This is a rather comfortable exhibit, as many people were sitting on it. The use of the wood stacked up, with LED strip inside diffused by some fabric seemed interesting, especially up-close.

The main attraction was, of course, Urban Tree 2.0, which had been here in the past and a relative hit.

This year, there’s quite a few cute poses that the frog does, which adds to its appeal.

Also near Lux Populi was this canopy, which I thought quite well used for effect.

Although not part of the Vivid Sydney program, Tesla’s showroom crashed the party too. Lots stopped just for a peek – myself included.

The last exhibit I photographed was a combination of re/FRACTION and The Waratah 1/2 as they so nicely lined up. Sadly, re/FRACTION seemed to have quite a bit of random noise in the image and one line of LEDs was malfunctioning.

Conclusion

Well that’s it for my photos of Vivid Sydney 2017. I don’t have any more time to visit, but there is a (paid) precinct at Taronga Zoo, as before, as well as some rather scattered installations in Westfield Sydney (I believe) and one in the carpark of Sydney Airport.

Even though the number of exhibits seems to have reduced in comparison with previous years, it’s still a worthwhile visit for some night photos or just to enjoy the show.

Vivid Sydney is still running every night from 6pm to 11pm until the 17th June, so if you’re in Sydney and the weather permits, maybe it’s worth seeing it for yourself. See you there next year!

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Vivid Sydney 2017: Part 2 – Chatswood & Darling Harbour

Vivid Sydney is a festival of “Light, Music & Ideas” which is run on an annual basis in Sydney. I do my best every year to visit, and this year was no exception.

What follows are the shots I took from the various precincts in operation this year. I didn’t try to visit every attraction or to photograph everything – after all, as with most pieces of art, some works resonate better with the audience than others. Some were also difficult to convey in the medium of photography, due to the rise of interactive exhibits, while others draw long queues which I couldn’t be bothered contending with. Other exhibits were named on the map, but when I arrived, they seemed to have mysteriously disappeared. Maybe I just didn’t see it – or more likely, some exhibits are really non-exhibits.

Where possible, I have attached the name of the exhibit to the posting – apologies in advance for any mix-ups. Due to the number of photos, this years’ posting will be made in three parts, separated by precinct. This is the second part, focusing on Chatswood and Darling Harbour.

Chatswood

As with past years, Chatswood is a great alternate precinct to go to if you want to get away from the city. This is especially good on days where Circular Quay gets too crowded, but you don’t want to head home just yet. At the interchange, we are treated to Voxelscape – and for those who don’t know, a voxel is like a pixel, just in 3D.

Because of the design of the interchange, we can get up and close to them. As they change through a myriad of colours and patterned displays, it kind of reminds me of looking at carbon dioxide bubbles in soda, or the stars of space.

It seems that each of them is an addressable RGB LED with a diffusing ball cable tied to it. Sadly, one string seemed out of action in the above photos.

The main attraction is, of course, The Concourse. However, there were a few things to catch your eye before you get there. One is Crossword, where projections of words at jaunty angles litter the street. It even cycles to Chinese, catering for the local population.

Canopy of Light takes care of the trees, illuminating them in a healthy green glow, while the seats beneath change colour.

The display at The Concourse is titled Future City, Smart City as well as Steampunk WaterWorld which seems to be tied in together. It follows the adventure of Miki in the Sky with Magpie.

The story seems to revolve around the competing corporate greed and human need for water in a fictional cartoon setting. It is brightly illustrated, and works with the lighting in the area.

Of course, it would be more engaging if it were somewhat tied to actual localities … so as a result, Chatswood got involved.

In the end, the city can be seen to move from a modern metropolis back into something resembling nature, at which point, the protagonist seems to have done their job and saved the world.

As a bonus, the pool below-ground was also used and synchronized with the display to provide yet another projection surface.

There was also Octopoda in front of the entrance to Westfield. I can’t help but think its positioning was strategic and commercially motivated. Not the most photogenic, it seems.

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is the home of the water show, and this year is no exception. Feeling a little lazy this year, I rode the light-rail to Exhibition and walked from there.

Even though not technically a Vivid Sydney exhibit, the new ICC is lit up pretty well at night.

The LED signboard at the side of the building ran a star-hunter style simulation. Not an exhibit, but still cool.

The center of Tumbalong Park played home to a rectangular array of steerable spotlights (Tumbalong Lights), quite similar to the round array that featured previously at Martin Place. However, these seemed to steer very quickly with almost no dwell time, making interesting photos hard to come by.

The main drawcard was Magicians of the Mist, the water show which runs every half-hour with certain times also featuring fireworks. This year they have some nozzles capable of fog, which produces a nice diffuse light effect.

They also have steerable spots which can give you a good dose of light if you happen to snap just at the right time.

Of course, the roof of the Maritime Museum was used for a projection (Inspired by the Sea), along with a few items on the foreshore.

Conclusion

Chatswood continues to be an attraction with the projections on The Concourse as well as the exhibits at the interchange, although this year, it seems that Westfield has now participated. As with previous years, the main attraction of the water show at Darling Harbour has been maintained. Follow along in the next post to see Barangaroo South, Kings Cross and Martin Place precincts.

Vivid Sydney is still running every night from 6pm to 11pm until the 17th June, so if you’re in Sydney and the weather permits, maybe it’s worth seeing it for yourself.

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Vivid Sydney 2017: Part 1 – Circular Quay & Royal Botanic Gardens

Vivid Sydney is a festival of “Light, Music & Ideas” which is run on an annual basis in Sydney. It proves to be a popular attraction for both tourists and locals looking for a bit of art with light and a reason to get out for some night photography. Over the past few years (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016), I’ve been visiting the festival to take in the action and give it my best shot. In fact, that’s why I decided to stay in Sydney for this intervening period – so I could catch CeBIT, Vivid Sydney and SMPTE Sydney (coming soon).

This year, the festival runs from 26th May to 17th June, although many nights have been marred by less than favourable weather. A whole week of rain fell upon us just recently, which didn’t help. Furthermore, photographers looking to avoid crowds tend to avoid Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights – unfortunately, there are some special features which only run on those nights (e.g. fireworks). Add to that, my own busy schedule, and I’m lucky I even got to see Vivid at all this year.

It seems that this year, they’ve added Kings Cross and Barangaroo South to the list of precincts, although the amount of exhibits at Circular Quay has diminished somewhat. In return, the Royal Botanic Gardens has been arranged into a linear walk-through rather than a loop, and crowd flow is much improved with less exhibits and obstacles in the way of the narrow foreshore walkways. Crowd control gates and barriers were in use, and waterfront areas in Darling Harbour were all fenced off – not a good look, but it does keep the drunkards from accidentally falling into the water and drowning as has happened in the past. In a stroke of preparedness, lifeguards were on standby, along with their dinghy boat.

What follows are the shots I took from the various precincts in operation this year. I didn’t try to visit every attraction or to photograph everything – after all, as with most pieces of art, some works resonate better with the audience than others. Some were also difficult to convey in the medium of photography, due to the rise of interactive exhibits, while others draw long queues which I couldn’t be bothered contending with. Other exhibits were named on the map, but when I arrived, they seemed to have mysteriously disappeared. Maybe I just didn’t see it – or more likely, some exhibits are really non-exhibits.

Where possible, I have attached the name of the exhibit to the posting – apologies in advance for any mix-ups. Due to the number of photos, this years’ posting will be made in three parts, separated by precinct. This is the first post, focusing on the main area of Circular Quay, The Rocks and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Circular Quay and The Rocks

There’s no better place than to start the walk at the main precinct in Circular Quay. As in previous years, the bridge lights (and other lights along the precinct) are back along with a control room (Dreamscape) where people can choose to change the lighting. There were also an array of steerable spotlights which formed a loose intersection in the sky somewhere above the water.

The lights do move, and as the night began, they changed into a radiating beam – although somewhat irregularly spaced.

The main attraction is the projections on the Opera House, this year entitled Audio Creatures. It seems to have quite a sea life theme to it with a mixture of patterns thrown in for good measure. Due to the crowding around the Opera House itself, it’s best shot from the Overseas Passenger Terminal across the Quay. That being said, if you do get there early (as I did) and bag a good spot, make sure it’s not on the lower deck as when 6pm rolls by, security guards will angrily give you a direction to move on because the area is closed and reserved for “accessible viewing”. Unfortunately, I find this a bit stupid since there was plenty of room for wheelchairs to get around, and we took the effort to get there first – we should be at least given the right to watch one loop rather than being treated like drunks that need to be thrown out of a bar.

 

Aside from that, the projections at the Museum of Contemporary Art are normally pretty popular as well. This years’ exhibit is Organic Vibrations.

Unlike previous years, there were no projections on Customs House. Instead, in front, there was Cradle and Don’t Step on the Crack.

Heading towards The Rocks, we come by AXIOM. While the installation itself didn’t wow me, it’s always good to get a few shots of people interacting with the exhibit – whether that is by trying to control the exhibit, or in this case, just doing their best to appreciate it.

Parallax also invoked much of a similar appreciation vibe. There were many more exhibits along the stretch but it was too busy to grab my tripod …

The interior area of the Passenger Terminal was opened as well, with Always Coming, Always Going showing rather electric patterns depending on who was interacting with its Kinect sensor.

It would be remiss of me not to mention Crystallize, an exhibit contributed by UNSW Create society.

As it has a sensor, it dares people to get up and close to take a photo. After all, everyone needs another set of angel wings … right? The big crowds certainly think so.

Freedom of Movement was another interesting exhibit, featuring motorized swings which do their own show. Luckily, I came just in time.

Umbrellas seem to be a theme this year for some reason – Under My Umbrella for example. A lot of people were captivated by umbrellas lit from below, so it seems someone else had a similar idea.

Supernova in Bulletin Place also used umbrellas, although it does have potentially photosensitive-epilepsy-triggering flickering lights. A pleasing mix of colour and incandescent lighting – here’s it in both orientations, catching the flicker on the right side. Not quite as impressive as in real life.

Tucked away behind Customs House is Tidal, another exhibit which draws the selfie crowd as well as some semi-professional portrait photographers (along with their models) it seems.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Since its inception, the Royal Botanic Gardens precinct has always impressed me. So this year, you’ll be glad to hear that it’s definitely one of the highlights. On the way is SYDNEYLAND. I have no idea what it’s for, but maybe it’s telling us to buy land in Sydney? Regardless, its colour changing antics gets people snapping … me included. Snapping pictures of people snapping pictures, how meta.

The first exhibit was The Waratah 2/2, our state flower in massive “blow-up” proportions.

It makes a good image looking the other way … appropriate given the state level support for the event.

The Sunflowers shine brightly even though it’s night. They’re supposed to follow the sun, but instead, these seem to be following the police chopper overhead … I mean, their hearts. Every so often, the heads of the sunflowers will rotate, giving a different perspective. People seem to like it.

Birds of Lumos is another fairly popular exhibit, of kiwis. More of an exhibit to appease the guys across the pond, I reckon, but a good one at that. More colour changing goodness.

That wasn’t the only bird themed exhibit – there’s the pair of Dipping Birds, reminiscent of old desk toys.

SPREADING LIFE apparently emulates blowing on a dandelion. It’s nice enough just to watch, I think.

Electric Forest proved to be quite a fruitful exhibit with a lot of light. Rays from the harbour help illuminate the sky.

Up-close, projections and figures on the trees make for interesting viewing.

Reflection forms words out of … you guessed it … reflections in mirrors. People holding mops are constantly at the ready to keep the mirrors clean.

On the way out, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music is all lit up, but so is the tree. Amazing. Crowding does seem to be an issue at times, and some exhibits were almost impossible to photograph, so definitely worth seeing for yourself.

Conclusion

It seems there are less exhibits this year in this area, but in return, the crowd flow is improved. Sadly, I can’t say it’s been the best experience – while I didn’t witness any angry photographers this year, I did get escorted out of an area which was reserved for “accessible viewing” even though I had turned up early prior to such areas being signed or restricted (along with several hundred others). Oh well. Follow along in the next post to see the Chatswood and Darling Harbour precinct in action.

Vivid Sydney is still running every night from 6pm to 11pm until the 17th June, so if you’re in Sydney and the weather permits, maybe it’s worth seeing it for yourself.

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