The ultimate guide to Vivid Sydney 2011

The ultimate guide to Vivid Sydney 2011

Now in its third year, the celebration of light, music and creativity has established itself as Sydney's major winter festival
Vivid Sydney
Aliens light display on the harbor.

Vivid Sydney returns for its third year of lights, music and ideas. The Sydney Opera House will once again be the centerpiece of the artistic explosion from May 27 to June 13.

Psychedelic laser shows and arrangements will light up the night sky for the next two weeks. Some big acts will play live to groovers in the Opera House, seminars will explore the city's latest ideas and -- sticking to a varied theme -- conventions will satisfy corporate movers.

Lights ...

It must be one big light switch -- prominent Circular Quay buildings and sites are transformed into a kaleidoscopic of light and space for the entirety of the festival.

The large canvases of the Opera House sails are lit with neon and projections by French art and design collective, Superbien, who bring innovative multimedia into a projectionist art form.

The colonial-era Customs House will get a nu-rave facelift as The Electric Canvas -- a team of large-scale image manipulators -- bring their light show, "Unfamiliar Customs," to life.

Across Campbell’s Cove, flames higher than a three-story building will fly for Fire Dance, with 40 jets burning and reflecting across the water, all choreographed to music.

Elsewhere around Circular Quay, more than 40 surreal light art installations, such as a huge sketchpad and a giant crystal spider web, will be on display.

Vivid SydneyThe 40 jets on display at the harborside Firedance.

Vivid Live Highlights

Following festival curators Brian Eno in 2009 and Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson in 2010, this year Vivid Live draws a line-up from the hip record collection of Sydney’s own Stephen Pavlovic. He’s the man behind Modular Records -- home to Wolfmother, The Presets, Tame Impala and The Avalanches.

Spiritualized kick things off with a special performance of their 1997 album "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space," described as a "magnum opus and a grand oddity". May 27-May 28 at Opera House, tickets from $59.

Vivid SydneySpiritualised will launch two weeks of live music at Vivid Sydney.

A combination of the Concert Hall’s perfect acoustics and Cut Copy’s "Zonoscope" –- both the title of their new album and their own measurement of sonic breadth –- and you’re in for one impacting show. May 29, $55.

Tickets for The Cure went quicker than guy liner at a Goth party. Performing 1979’s "Three Imaginary Boys," the 1980’s "Seventeen Seconds" and 1981’s "Faith." Get a bank loan and check on eBay for these tickets. Or change your name to Pavlovic.

Grammy Award-winning saxophonist, the evergreen Sonny Rollins, celebrates his 80th birthday by playing his jazz at the Sydney Opera House. June 2, from $59.

Alongside the live events are the Studio Parties where a nightclub is "in the house." See Melbourne’s cut-and-paste pirates, The Avalanches, with a string of guests. June 3, 10 p.m.-3 a.m., $60. The next night see Belgium’s 2MANYDJS mash up a sound-system stamp pot. June 4-5, $60.

Having made memorable videos for Björk, Aphex Twin and Madonna, filmmaker Chris Cunningham tried his hand at DJing, and promises a combined audio-visual attack to stimulate synapses. June 5, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. or 8.30 p.m.-midnight, from $40.

Other performers include local DJs Bag Raiders (27-28 May, $25), The Crystal Ark (28 May, $25) Architecture in Helsinki (29 May From $39), indie-pop princess Bat For Lashes (3-4 June, from $59), hip-hop outfit OFWGKTA (31 May – 3 June, $60) and the big band re-inventors Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (4 June, $39).

For free, check out sound specialists Lucky Dragons with visual artist Tom Kuntz. The performance presents an image installation of musical insects –- it will be a concert in a huge terrarium in the Opera House (free).  

Creative Sydney  

Vivid SydneyInstallations and projections will create an alter-world.Aiming to inspire youth-orientated creative and artistic producers, Vivid Creative Sydney invites content producers, artists, designers, innovators and entrepreneurs to share experiences and advice for a sustainable, creative future climate.

Many of these events have reached capacity and only waiting lists are available.

Future Smarts: Education for the 21st Century looks at the skills a child born today will need for tomorrow’s workforce (June 2, full).

Start-Up City examines the risks involved in new digital projects and ways of safeguarding them (May 30, full).

Transmedia: Stories Across Platforms looks at content-makers telling stories across a range of media (June 1).

Alternatively, catch Alex Munt’s film LBF, based on Cry Bloxsome's novel, (June 10 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, $17).

Visit Creative Sydney for more events.

Industrious Sydney

Vivid SydneySmile while you're learning.Beyond the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay, a string of conferences discuss marketing, media, communications, technology and even lighting.

Cebit Australia is Australasia’s premier business technology event with more than 30,000 professionals at Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, May 31–June 2.

Tied in with the nightly displays, Sparc International Lighting Event, focuses on new technology within the industry, Doltone House, June 6–8.

AMP’s biennial Amplify Festival attracts President Obama’s technology policy advisor, Professor Mike Nelson, and Australia’s YouTube star, Natalie Tran. Also, the inventor of Wi-Fi, Dr. John O’Sullivan, rounds out the keynotes. June 6-10, $4,000 for all sessions.

Media and marketing conference Mumbrella360 showcases the industry’s most exciting and innovative companies. While running parallel is EncoreLive, discussing the current climate of Australia’s screen industry, with speakers Emile Sherman (Oscar-winner -- "The King's Speech") and Ruth Harley (CEO of Screen Australia). June 7-8, Hilton.,

Digitech 2011: The Next Frontier offers practical insights into the digital marketing and communication strategies of some of the most successful brands and organizations. June 9-10, Sydney Harbour Marriott.

The internationally renowned think tank, X|Media|Lab, brings its "Global Media Ideas" summit to Sydney, rounding off an exciting week of technology, media and ideas with CEOs of top Silicon Valley companies and the creator of Google Earth. June 10-12, from $250 at Sydney Opera House,