Saturday, June 1, 2013

Vivid - The Light Fantastic

Circular Quay in Sydney, is the hub of the city, the spot where the ferries come in, ending a ferry trip that must be one of the most spectacular in the world with the Harbour Bridge to one side, Opera House to the other, with a view that makes it hard to know which way to aim your camera for the average tourist.

On a normal night, the lights around the harbour twinkle and glitter very satisfactorily, with people spilling out of the Opera House or standing with a drink on the Terraces beneath it, whilst strollers promenade round Circular Quay and the quayside restaurant outdoor tables fill up with diners.   

‘Vivid’ the Sydney Festival of Light, Music and Ideas, that is now into it’s 5th year, lifts the spectacular rating of the city at night to ‘Completely Out of This World’.  As soon as darkness falls, the sails of the Opera House become a playpen for colour and pattern, the curves of the sails a projection screen for lyrical imaginings around the theme of ‘Play’.  I say lyrical, even though it is more appropriate descriptor for music, because somehow it just seems the right word to describe the blending and weaving of light with shapes and patterns appearing and disintegrating like themes in a symphony.

Sydney’s landmark Customs House building that dates back to 1845, is hidden behind an elevated train line and a motorway – raising an interesting question about the thinking of those who designed that particular transport solution.  ‘Vivid’ transforms the classical symmetry of the Georgian façade into a laughing, jiving house of fun, with the pared back architectural lines of the building blurring in a psychedelic, mind bending screen, complete with a King Kong inspired gorilla swinging through the action. 

The Museum of Contemporary Art building always reminds me of an industrial factory head office in my own personal version of 1984.  From the Opera House, gazing across Circular Quay towards the MCA building, the patterns of light build in blocks and cascade down whilst targeted lines create cats cradles across the building.  It all seemed pretty impressive as a view, but once we had wandered our way round the Quay past the individual light sculptures and it is hard not to be astonished by the variety and creativity of the light artists, the highlight of ‘Vivid’ for me, was standing in front of the MCA, and watching the building climb and crumble in patterns of light, whilst behind us the choreographed music played.   The combination of two sensory experiences was just outstanding.

‘Vivid’ is on until June 10th, and the lights and the show go on from 6p.m. every night, so should you be in Sydney, get yourself down there and trip the light fantastic.

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