INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
The Australian MARCH 20, 2009 - by Matthew Westwood
ENO THROWS LIGHT ON SOUND IDEAS
Brian Eno, the pioneering musician and culture-shaper, is to turn the sails of the Sydney Opera House into a vast lighting display. Eno's illuminations, and a contemporary music program that he will curate, are part of a new festival dedicated to sound, light and ideas.
Vivid Sydney, as the festival is called, is a mid-year cultural program intended to draw visitors to the city in the winter months.
A founding member of 1970s rock group Roxy Music, Eno has collaborated with eminent figures such as David Byrne and Paul Simon, and created art installations such as his 77 Million Paintings, also coming to Sydney in May. He has also produced albums for U2 and Coldplay.
His work has dissolved distinctions between heritage and popular art forms through concepts such as self-generating images and ambient music.
"One of the things I've been interested in for a long time is replacing the idea of genius with the idea of 'scenius', which is a word I made up," he said.
"Genius is usually... the expression of one person, whereas what I think often happens is that you get fertile scenes, where's it's the cumulative intelligence of a lot of people."
Vivid has been developed by Events NSW and was launched by NSW Premier Nathan Rees. It is an umbrella festival comprising four elements: Luminous, Eno's curated music festival; Fire Water, enacting the dramatic conflageration of convict ship of Three Bees in 1814; Creative Sydney, a program of seminars and performances; and Smart Light Sydney, involving night walks and illuminations.
Eno's music program includes innovative rock acts Battles and Ladytron, trumpeter Jon Hassell and singer Rachid Taha.
Many of the Smart Light illuminations involve low-energy lights, says artistic director Mary-Anne Kyriacou, pointing to a glowing installation of twenty-five coloured lamps that use LEDs and less than sixty watts.
Discussions to bring Eno to Sydney began in early 2007.
"He wasn't interested in the music part so much, he was interested in the lighting aspect," Kyriacou says.
Eno's illuminations will use the Opera House sails as a sculptural surface to highlight their architectural detail. Kyriacou says such projects follow festivals of light in European cities. "Cities are no longer about architecture, cities are about atmosphere," she says.