Everything is illuminated: Vivid Sydney returns with dazzling delights

Vivid Sydney is one of the nation’s principal cultural events, featuring a menagerie of forward-thinking performances, installations, and presentations running over three weeks and sprawled across some of the city’s key locations. Among the festival’s essential elements is its presentation of art’s affinity with technology, and this year is no exception.

When most people mention the festival, the light shows are the first thing to pop up in conversation, with a plethora of projections and interactive pieces lining Sydney’s Circular Quay, Botanic Gardens, Chatswood, and for the first time, Barangaroo. This year, the Opera House sails will be blanketed in Ash Bolland’s abstract imagery, which he describes as being inspired by “insects, animals and plant life, as well as the vast marine underworld” with each “audio creature” accompanied by its own soundtrack.

There are several pieces relying on the projection of light into mist or vapour, such as Magicians of the Mist, which hurls 28 tonnes of water into the air over Darling Harbour every minute and uses lasers, LEDs and searchlights to form an enormous avatar. Another, dubbed re/FRACTION, takes over the iconic fountain in Martin Place and warps it using refracted light.

Magicians of the Mist - artist impression by Ample Projects

Magicians of the Mist - artist impression by Ample Projects

More than just a pretty face

Vivid Ideas is another of the festival’s core focuses and this year there’s definitely some juicy discussion to be fostered. A panel comprised of academic and industry experts in the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence will debate the future of their industry and if the technology has an upper limit.

If you’re looking to get the kids involved in the festivities, you can bring them down to the Powerhouse Museum for some child-friendly virtual reality workshops, or head to Carriageworks for the Sunrise Conference and learn about what it takes to be a tech startup. 

Being progressive in spirit, Vivid has partnered with the Banksia Foundation in order to make the 23-day extravaganza entirely sustainable. All grid-based electricity will be GreenPower accredited, efficient LED technology and waste management will be utilised, and even the increase in flights and transport will be carbon offset.

The festival kicks off May 26 and runs until June 17 and is held at hundreds of locations around Sydney. While there are plenty of free events and installations, it’s worth checking out the Vivid website for further information on any ticketed events.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.