Vivid Sydney 2017: Part 2 – Chatswood & Darling Harbour

Vivid Sydney is a festival of “Light, Music & Ideas” which is run on an annual basis in Sydney. I do my best every year to visit, and this year was no exception.

What follows are the shots I took from the various precincts in operation this year. I didn’t try to visit every attraction or to photograph everything – after all, as with most pieces of art, some works resonate better with the audience than others. Some were also difficult to convey in the medium of photography, due to the rise of interactive exhibits, while others draw long queues which I couldn’t be bothered contending with. Other exhibits were named on the map, but when I arrived, they seemed to have mysteriously disappeared. Maybe I just didn’t see it – or more likely, some exhibits are really non-exhibits.

Where possible, I have attached the name of the exhibit to the posting – apologies in advance for any mix-ups. Due to the number of photos, this years’ posting will be made in three parts, separated by precinct. This is the second part, focusing on Chatswood and Darling Harbour.


As with past years, Chatswood is a great alternate precinct to go to if you want to get away from the city. This is especially good on days where Circular Quay gets too crowded, but you don’t want to head home just yet. At the interchange, we are treated to Voxelscape – and for those who don’t know, a voxel is like a pixel, just in 3D.

Because of the design of the interchange, we can get up and close to them. As they change through a myriad of colours and patterned displays, it kind of reminds me of looking at carbon dioxide bubbles in soda, or the stars of space.

It seems that each of them is an addressable RGB LED with a diffusing ball cable tied to it. Sadly, one string seemed out of action in the above photos.

The main attraction is, of course, The Concourse. However, there were a few things to catch your eye before you get there. One is Crossword, where projections of words at jaunty angles litter the street. It even cycles to Chinese, catering for the local population.

Canopy of Light takes care of the trees, illuminating them in a healthy green glow, while the seats beneath change colour.

The display at The Concourse is titled Future City, Smart City as well as Steampunk WaterWorld which seems to be tied in together. It follows the adventure of Miki in the Sky with Magpie.

The story seems to revolve around the competing corporate greed and human need for water in a fictional cartoon setting. It is brightly illustrated, and works with the lighting in the area.

Of course, it would be more engaging if it were somewhat tied to actual localities … so as a result, Chatswood got involved.

In the end, the city can be seen to move from a modern metropolis back into something resembling nature, at which point, the protagonist seems to have done their job and saved the world.

As a bonus, the pool below-ground was also used and synchronized with the display to provide yet another projection surface.

There was also Octopoda in front of the entrance to Westfield. I can’t help but think its positioning was strategic and commercially motivated. Not the most photogenic, it seems.

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is the home of the water show, and this year is no exception. Feeling a little lazy this year, I rode the light-rail to Exhibition and walked from there.

Even though not technically a Vivid Sydney exhibit, the new ICC is lit up pretty well at night.

The LED signboard at the side of the building ran a star-hunter style simulation. Not an exhibit, but still cool.

The center of Tumbalong Park played home to a rectangular array of steerable spotlights (Tumbalong Lights), quite similar to the round array that featured previously at Martin Place. However, these seemed to steer very quickly with almost no dwell time, making interesting photos hard to come by.

The main drawcard was Magicians of the Mist, the water show which runs every half-hour with certain times also featuring fireworks. This year they have some nozzles capable of fog, which produces a nice diffuse light effect.

They also have steerable spots which can give you a good dose of light if you happen to snap just at the right time.

Of course, the roof of the Maritime Museum was used for a projection (Inspired by the Sea), along with a few items on the foreshore.


Chatswood continues to be an attraction with the projections on The Concourse as well as the exhibits at the interchange, although this year, it seems that Westfield has now participated. As with previous years, the main attraction of the water show at Darling Harbour has been maintained. Follow along in the next post to see Barangaroo South, Kings Cross and Martin Place precincts.

Vivid Sydney is still running every night from 6pm to 11pm until the 17th June, so if you’re in Sydney and the weather permits, maybe it’s worth seeing it for yourself.

About lui_gough

I'm a bit of a nut for electronics, computing, photography, radio, satellite and other technical hobbies. Click for more about me!
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