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.