Considering how often we use it daily for practicality, it’s so easy to forget the simplistic beauty of lights. But when you stop to think about the numerous cultural and artistic festivals that celebrate its beauty, we are reminded that its sole purpose and existence may not just be to light dark hallways.
Every year since 2009, the months of May and June have been renown to usher in countless spectators to Sydney’s CBD as colorfully animated visuals are projected onto the city’s buildings and signature landmarks. They call it Vivid Sydney.
This year, I had my first experience with Vivid.
It was an incredibly cold night of several ‘firsts’. Having only been in Sydney for a few months, the city’s train system was never something I identified with as ‘convenient’ or ‘user friendly’. But I was pleasantly surprised at the plush seats and the ‘traffic-defying’ speed it took for me to be transported to Circular Quay. Out from under the stark, florescent lights of the train and onto the streetlight lit streets of the evening, the lights of Vivid were everywhere. From merchandise vendors to the projections on Customs House, enigmatic lights fuelled the pep of Sydney’s pedestrian’s steps more than usual. I remember standing in awe as vines crept up the Customs House and flowers blossomed, ushering in a cinematic spring in the midst of the city’s winter cold.
The trail blazed on along the harbour where people were drawn to the lights, like a moths – with people bumping into each other, everyone seemed to have lost awareness of space. But I knew it was all well worth the fight when the Opera House came alight (see what I did there?).
Walking home, I thought back to when I was younger. My cousin and I had teamed up to participate in a Moon Festival walk with some 80-90 other kids. I remember us parading around suburban neighbourhoods, arms tired from holding up colorful fish lanterns that glimmered from the tealight it held inside. What is it about little lights under a dark sky that captivate us so intensely? Like a childhood love, it’s something none of us can really grow out of.