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Vivid Sydney 2017 — Chatswood

D and I aren’t good tour­ists of Sydney or New South Wales or Australia gen­er­ally. We go out of our way to vis­it light install­a­tions dur­ing winter and in the lead up to Christmas in Japan, but we’re happy to be home­bod­ies instead of ven­tur­ing out to the Vivid fest­iv­al every year. This year though, we happened to be in Chatswood without even­ing know­ing that there were parts of the fest­iv­al hap­pen­ing out­side the Sydney CBD.

The theme is ‘Transport to a Steam-Powered, Funky-Retro, Futuristic Smart City’ and at Chatswood Interchange (above) is Voxelscape.

Voxelscape is a three-dimen­sion­al light­show of more than 9,000 glow­ing spheres.

The spheres change col­ours, cyc­ling through the with blues to purples to reds to pinks and greens.

Looking from beneath this install­a­tion is a truly mes­mer­ising exper­i­ence that reminds of Yayoi Kusama’s Fireflies on the Water (2002).

We missed Gear Shift, ‘a pump­ing, people powered steam engine cre­ated with inter­act­ive pro­jec­tion’ and walk down Chatswood Mall and pass Crossword, an install­a­tion that ‘sends a cross­fire of hid­den mes­sages mid-air and onto rev­el­lers’. I wasn’t con­vinced this was part of Vivid as all the words were in Chinese, and even after find­ing out that it was part of Vivid, I’m not sure I under­stand the point of the install­a­tion unless the ‘rev­el­lers’ were con­trib­ut­ing to the cre­ation of the hid­den mes­sages.

Just above Hawker Lane at Chatswood Westfield is Octopoda. This steam­punk creature is an inter­act­ive work that invites audi­ences to become part of the tentacle per­cus­sion ensemble by play­ing the drums to activ­ate an explo­sion of music and light. Children were going nuts on the drums it was dif­fi­cult to wit­ness what would oth­er­wise have been an inter­est­ing work. But that’s what you get for going out­side the art gal­lery and installing pub­lic art.

Across the road, the façade of The Concourse hosts Future City, Smart City, a short film about ‘people have taken to the air in whim­sic­al diri­gibles and an air­borne, sus­tain­able com­munity emerges’.

And peer­ing down into the reflec­tion pool beneath The Concourse we dis­cov­er Steampunk Waterworld, an under­wa­ter magic­al world with a steam­punk cicada of sorts tak­ing centre stage and draw­ing asso­ci­ation with the steam­punk octopus in Octopoda.

Visiting in the even­ing, we also missed Light Bounce at Chatswood Chase, which ‘encour­ages vis­it­ors to wander by day through a spark­ling forest of refract­ive light’.

Stumbling upon Vivid Sydney 2017 at Chatswood was an inter­est­ing diver­sion, but it’s not some­thing we see ourselves going out of the way for every year.

Vivid Sydney 2017 ran in Sydney across mul­tiple loc­a­tions nightly from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm between 26 May to 17 June 2017.