The Vivid Landscape: Zalehah Turner previews this year’s Vivid Sydney

Now in its eighth year, Vivid Sydney will light the facades of many of Sydney’s significant buildings with impressive projections surrounded by interactive installations that respond to touch, sound, and even text messages from 27 May to 18 June, transforming the city into an immersive, interactive, outdoor art gallery. From its initial beginning as a Smart Light Festival with a focus on sustainable energy in 2009, to the world’s largest festival of lights, music, and ideas with over 1.7 million attending last year, Vivid continues to expand in 2016 with new precincts, venues, and over an additional five days.

Executive Producer, Sandra Chipchase, announced that this year’s Vivid would be the biggest yet with an “incredible program where art, creativity, and innovation meet.” She added that, “Vivid Sydney delivers the world’s leading light artists in Vivid Light, cutting-edge musicians in Vivid Music, and creative innovators in Vivid Ideas.”


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‘The Matter of Painting’, Museum of Contemporary Art- artist impression by Huseyin Sami & Danny Rose (Courtesy of Destination NSW)

Artist, Huseyin Sami and Paris-based collective, Dany Rose, explore a key concept behind Vivid Light at the Museum of Contemporary Art, with their aptly titled work, ‘The Matter of Painting’. Treating the building’s architectural facade as a canvas, the artists, use light, sound, and an impressive range of techniques to create a multi-sensory experience which explores the physical nature of paint and the act of painting.


Songlines Sydney Opera House
‘Songlines’, Sydney Opera House- render impression by Artists in Motion, inspired by Karla Dickens (Courtesy of Destination NSW)

‘Songlines’, directed by Rhoda Roberts and incorporating the work of six, Indigenous artists, will Light the Sails of the Sydney Opera House, an event that has been a highlight of Vivid from the first festival with Brian Eno in 2009. As the title suggests, the artwork draws from the First Nation’s traditional, belief system which holds that Songlines are the paths left in the land and sky from creator beings in the Dreamtime. Songlines have traditionally been recorded in songs, stories, dance, and painting.

Two of the new precincts that will light up for Vivid, Taronga Zoo and the Royal Botanic Garden, are celebrating their anniversaries with ten, giant, multimedia, light sculptures of endangered species at the Zoo and the ‘Cathedral of Light’ at the gardens.

New Order, the 1980s electronic dance band that formed after the death of Joy Division lead singer, Ian Curtis, headline this year’s Vivid LIVE program at the Opera House. The band will play four nights, two with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Ironically, New Order, who were renowned for the minimalist packaging of their albums, will be surrounded by the colourful decorations of the light display across the sails.

While the line up at the Sydney Opera House is impressive, ‘Björk Digital’ at Carriageworks is certainly a highlight of this year’s festival and the Vivid Music program. Björk will curate two nights of music to open the world premiere of her experiment into virtual reality, after which the exhibition will be free to the public until, 18 June.

The Vivid Ideas program is also extensive with the Game Changer talks featuring filmmaker, Spike Jonze, ‘House of Cards’ creator, Beau Willimon, and ‘Orange is the New Black’ writer and creator, Jenji Kohan. Vivid Sydney Executive Producer, Sandra Chipchase said that, “the 2016 Vivid Ideas program is a dynamic showcase of art, creativity, and innovation” which focuses on the creative industries and technology, highlighting “Sydney at its cutting-edge best.”

A festival of lights, music, and ideas, Vivid is sure to impress. For the ultimate, immersive, multi-sensory experience, travel the path of the Vivid Light Walk.

-Zalehah Turner


Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based poet currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communications majoring in writing and cultural studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. Zalehah is an Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review

Vivid Sydney runs from 27 May to 18 June. Check the website for further details:

The Australian Chamber Orchestra:


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