For the last two weeks, Sydney has been illuminated nightly by light installations and art in its CBD and key precincts such as Chatswood, Central Park, and The University of Sydney, but these will soon come to a close on June 8.

So if you’re Sydney-bound or have no plans for the long weekend, here are five installations to catch in the city before they bid us goodnight for the year.

Lighting the Sails by Universal Everything

The highlight of the annual Festival of Light, Music and Ideas is the famous Lighting the Sails, when Jorn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House comes alive with projected artwork and music every night for the length of the event.

This year, design collective Universal Everything has created a digital whirl of colour via 30 30-second animations. The effect is as intended: captivating. You’ll surely want to have your phones or cameras at the ready for the lighting sequences.

Artist impression

Where: Sydney Opera House

Arclight by Bond University

Staff and students from the Abedian School of Architecture at Bond University have created Arclight, a dense thicket of clustered synthetic branch structures that incorporate interactive lighting that responds to environmental conditions.

Having attracted an estimated 50,000 people on the opening night of VIVID alone, the installation is reminiscent of the native mangroves of Australia’s waterways, with Assistant Professor Jonathan Nelson explaining that the genesis of the concept was from the mangrove tree, and the way its roots spread out and reach into the water.

“The weaving of the roots creates a unique ecosystem, a calm and safe environment that is home to young fish and other wildlife,” says Professor Nelson.

“The idea of our installation is that children can weave in and around the roots in the same way, while adults walk through the glowing branches as they transform in colour.”

Photography by Peter Bennetts

Arclight is made of HDPE plastic – the same material milk cartons are produced form, making the entire installation recyclable. The plastic is cut using digital fabrication tools.

“It is made up of 1900 individual pieces that are riveted together, each lit from within with LED lights that slowly change colours,” describes Professor Nelson. “Each of the pieces is quite complicated, with compounding curves, but through the use of digital fabrication techniques they have been developed so that they fit together seamlessly.”

Professor Nelson led the project with Assistant Professor Chris Knapp and visiting Associate Professor Andrew Kudless from the California College of Arts. Fifteen Bond students developed the concept from prototype through to the completed product, which was carefully pieced together on site.

Where: The Rocks

Tidal Reed Garden by Aura

Artificially produced reeds float along the line of the harbour wharf in Sydney’s Circular Quay, lighting up at night to become glowing, sculptural illuminations that cast dancing reflections on the water.

Designed by Louise Jarvis and Gioia Murray (a HASSELL Graduate of Architecture), with the lighting by Nocturnal Lighting, the installation was inspired by their interest in biomimicry – design that seeks to be sustainable by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.

“Each reed is shaped to mimic a natural water reed and the whole bed of them are animated by the swell of the water, movements in the tide and wash from passing ferries, enhancing the visitor’s experience of the harbour and engaging onlookers with  the movements of the harbour at night,” Aura describes.

Photography by Wesley Whittle

Where: Campbell’s Cove

Mechanised Colour Assemblage by Danny Rose and Australian artist Rebecca Baumann

The Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) digital art installation is another VIVID native, with Paris-based art and design group, Danny Rose, collaborating with Perth-based Baumann to transform the MCA’s sandstone façade into a series of sound and colour ‘machines’.

The latest 3D projection mapping technology is used to project the machine images onto the MCA façade, with the artists working closely with composer Emanuele de Raymondi. Projection technology is supplied and supported by video design experts, TDC – Technical Direction Company.

“The ultimate aim of the Mechanised Colour Assemblage piece was to plunge the audience into a synesthetic universe,” says Sergio Carrubba creative director from Danny Rose.

“The work is a truly transformative and deeply inspiring digital installation, which blends sounds and colours together to become a single element, so the viewer is at times unsure whether they are looking at sounds or listening to images!”

Where: Museum of Contemporary Art

Game of Drones by Intel

It’s no surprise that when Australians are leading the charge on pirated Game of Thrones episodes, we’re also racing to come up with as many puns as possible on the hit HBO series’ title (Game of Tones, anyone?)

Intel’s interactive VIVD installation, Game of Drones, seems to be another tongue-in-cheek play on words, but is exactly as it describes – visitors are invited to take control of and race a swarm of bumper remote-controlled bots to the top of a drone enclosure using Intel-powered tablets in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.

“Vivid Sydney is an event that continues to push the boundaries, using technology as the enabler to bring inspiring, fun and immersive installations to life,” says Intel Australia’s Managing Director, Kate Burleigh.

“This year we’re bringing a first to Vivid Sydney by giving festival goers a chance to fly their very own drone.”

Where: Martin Place

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