In the lead up to our Vivid Ideas event Imagining an Interactive Brand, we took a trip down to Vivid Lights to see if we could find some examples of interactivity at work.
Freedom of Movement
First up on our list is Ford’s Freedom of Movement. If you see one thing at Vivid Sydney this year, see this. In this glowing series of swings, Ford has teamed up with Imagination Australia to create a simple installation with a twist. The result is engaging and beautiful, creating an experience of the brand’s core mission: to change the way we move.
With interactive and autonomous modes, Freedom of Movement gives audiences the choice of whether to interact – that’s right, you can get on those giant, glowing swings – or stand back and enjoy a breath-taking display of colour and light. No matter which way you experience the installation – I’d recommend both – you’re bound to be left smiling.
Next we're headed away from the harbour and up into the Rocks. We’d heard there were some lovely interactive gems to be discovered, and we certainly weren’t disappointed. Our favourite was Uncovered World. It takes a bit of searching to find, but once you do, you’re in for a treat. The Propaganda Mill have taken a simple interaction – pressing a button – and transformed it into an experience that plays with the possibility of worlds beyond our own.
The interactivity here may be simple, but the joy is real. Push a button, make your way to the grate, and watch as the pavement unfolds around you. The near-perfect mapping of projection to real life bricks sets the scene and allows for convincing suspension of belief. And while the animations aren’t of the highest quality, the excitement of watching a world of your choosing come to life around you more than makes up for it.
Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that bring the most joy. That’s certainly the case with Kate and Marty’s Vivid Dreams. The premise is simple: move around underneath the three spiral light installations, and they’ll change colour as you go. There’s not much involved – a motion sensor and some light tubes – but watching something beautiful react to your presence does create a special kind of wonder.
Despite its simplicity, Vivid Dreams enables a wider range of interactions than you might think. There’s testing when and where the sensor picks up your presence. Running beneath all three and watching their colours change at a distance. Standing beneath just one and watching its transformation. No matter what you choose, the experience is sure to delight.
The interactive power of Kit Webster's AXIOM comes from its immersion. There isn't any clear point of interaction, but the immersion makes you feel like you're a part of the work anyway. When you’re standing amid the rhythmic lights and pulsing beats, you’re transported to a whole other world.
The sculpture's dazzling animated display, constructed from 700,000 LEDs over three dynamic archways, blurs the boundaries between virtual and physical space. Its bold combination of light and sound immerses participants in a constantly evolving, multi-sensory experience. And in doing so, AXIOM creates a hypnotising, synaesthetic landscape that's bound to leave you in a state of awe.
This year, 32 Hundred Lighting is back with Dreamscape, a huge 124,128-light interactive installation that just smashed the Guinness World Record for Largest Interactive Lighting Display. Turning the Harbour Bridge and surrounding cityscape into a giant canvas, Dreamscape gives audiences the power to orchestrate a spectacular show.
Once in the perspex control room, you'll find a world of choice at your fingertips. My congratulations goes to Iain Reed and his team for creating an installation that gives agency without sacrificing beauty. With a range of colours and textures to choose from, for a few moments you'll be able to light up the night.
Future of interactivity
So, those are our top five picks for the best interactive installations at this year’s Vivid Lights. If you’d like to learn more about the power of interactivity, join us at our Vivid Ideas event, Imagining an Interactive Brand. With a panel of industry experts, we'll discover how interactive technologies are revolutionising the stories we tell and experiences we create.