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YOUNG CM+ DESIGNERS: THE ROAD TO VIVID SYDNEY

By 16 May, 2019 No Comments

A snowflake storm, multicultural harmony and silver linings are expressed through three Vivid Light installations by young CM+ designers – soon to delight visitors to Sydney’s annual festival of light, music and ideas.

The 23-day festival attracted 2.25 million visitors in 2018, with even greater numbers expected to visit this year. Vivid Light, a series of colourful and immersive installations of sound and light, comes to life after dark throughout the city.

Expressions of interest to create artworks from around the globe are received by the Vivid Light Curatorial team each year, with only the best and brightest selected. Following an internal design competition at CM+, three concepts were selected to develop for entry, each led by one of our young designers. To our delight all three were accepted.

Rod Tan, Jing Li and Lawrence Liang are now bringing their concepts into reality, with the event to open in Sydney on May 24, 2019.

Harmony – an interactive musical tree

Diverse cultures coexisting in Sydney inspired Rod Tan’s work Harmony, an interactive piece for the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

As a recent migrant, arriving in Australia less than a year ago from the Philippines, one of the first things the CM+ Project Designer noticed was the city’s multiculturalism.

“Each person seems unique, yet there is an open-minded commonality that holds the fabric of society strong. The inspiration actually originally came from the CM+ office, where people from different backgrounds work together and communicate well,” he says.

The idea is articulated through the form of a tree, with six segments of light representing cultural differences that spiral from roots to canopy.

A pressure pad for each segment triggers musical instruments. Tan worked with musician Stervan Kansil to develop guitar, piano, organ, harp, violin and flute tracks. When pressed together, the song plays in harmony with a mesmerising light display, in celebration of unity.

Tan says his background in construction prepared him for the pressures of bump-in: “I prepped the materials – lights, nets and structure, and liaised with my team to work out a fast, efficient sequence for the build.”

The idea is articulated through the form of a tree, with six segments of light representing cultural differences that spiral from roots to canopy.

A pressure pad for each segment triggers musical instruments. Tan worked with musician Stervan Kansil to develop guitar, piano, organ, harp, violin and flute tracks. When pressed together, the song plays in harmony with a mesmerising light display, in celebration of unity.

Tan says his background in construction prepared him for the pressures of bump-in: “I prepped the materials – lights, nets and structure, and liaised with my team to work out a fast, efficient sequence for the build.”

Let It Snow – immersed in a snow storm

Jing Li, Senior Urban Designer with CM+, has designed an immersive storm of snowflakes for Hickson Road Reserve, featuring thousands of lights that react to weather and pedestrians.

Let It Snow is inspired by memories of playing in the snow as a child in her hometown of Hangzhou, in southern China. Visitors’ spatial perception is enlivened as they are surrounded by a flurry of lights, like snowflakes falling.

“The space feels turbulent and tempestuous when the wind blows and lots of people are playing, wandering and running through the lights. On quieter evenings with little to no breeze, it feels calm and gentle,” says Li.

Bringing the piece to life has involved balancing the experience and practical factors like clearance heights, says the artist.

“I have learned a lot from this process. It involves deep consideration of the user experience – which complements urban design as you always have the community in mind,” she adds.

Li hopes visitors feel present in the space, in play or contemplation: “that the moment belongs to them.”

In the lead up to bump-in she designed a path for visitors to take through the installation, and connected up light strings of different lengths to match.

Nostalgia Above – supporting mental health

CM+ Project Coordinator Lawrence Liang has teamed up with Architecture Student Sarah Anstee and university peers on emotive cloudscape Nostalgia Above, to float in Kendall Lane, The Rocks.

Liang worked with teammate Anson Li on 2018 Vivid Sydney installation Closer, and says lessons from the experience have been harnessed for this year’s effort.

This includes recruiting a large team, the youngest in Vivid Light, with 13 artists and collaborators under 25 years of age, known as Capto Collaborative.

“Studying architecture inspired us to create positive change through design – Vivid Sydney  is an avenue to action those principles early in our careers,” says Liang.

Nostalgia Above transforms the sky plane with a geometric interpretation of luminous clouds. Four narratives of music and light depict a thunderstorm, rain, overcast day and sunny skies – shifting from chaos into clarity to symbolise that better days will come.

This focus on positive thinking has earned the team endorsement from Beyond Blue.

“We all have friends and family who experience mental health issues. For us clouds represent that some days aren’t easy, but there are opportunities ahead,” says Liang.

“If we make a positive impact for one or two people through Vivid Sydney, that will give us a sense of fulfillment.”

The team has been busily sourcing materials, welding, painting, constructing the clouds and programming around their full-time employment since January, shortly after the installation was approved.

The artists thank Richard Nugent, Michael Morony, Rene Glover, Sarah Anstee and It Chew Tan from the CM+ office for their support.

The projects are also supported by Street Furniture Australia, Bosco Lighting, JHA Services, Cultural Capital and Automated.