White Night Ballarat

WNB Close Act Birdmen.jpgFollowing its inaugural event in 2017, White Night Ballarat returns to the streets and laneways of this beautiful regional city from 7.00pm on Saturday 17 March. From colourful projections and wondrous installations to music performances and interactive works, there will be so much to experience in Ballarat. Australian Arts Review takes a look at ten activities worth checking out:

Animalia Australia
Art Gallery of Ballarat
Selected from the Gallery’s extensive collection, celebrates the first encounters between white explorers, scientists and settlers with the animals of the Southern Continent and highlights the prevailing perceptions and depictions of native fauna of the period. Australian plants and animals were often shockingly different to anything the European settlers had seen before. Many of these ‘new’ animals were also simply terrifying. However, there was also an exotic and intriguing beauty to be encountered, documented and published.

Roving throughout the precinct 
Huge illuminated creatures will roam Ballarat’s streets during White Night, operated by mysterious men. They look like skeletal pterodactyls from another world but they can best be defined as new species: the Technosaurus – a creature from the past and the future combined! Their movement and colours will synchronise as they explore their surroundings, their illuminated bodies reacting with each other and with the environment. They talk in colours: come find out what they have to say!

Sturt Street East
Inspired by an ever-increasing sense of surveillance in our contemporary lives, Giovanna Inserra’s Blink presents a playful Big Brother-ish eye watching over Ballarat. By projecting and illuminating a large eye onto an oak tree on Sturt Street – an eye that will look left, then right, then appear to follow you and eventually blink – Inserra aims to engage viewers to think about how much visual surveillance we now encounter in our public spaces.

Police Lane (off Lydiard Street North)
Artist Debra Goldsmith’s Chandeliers transforms Police Lane into a Versailles-inspired fantasy with an installation of six chandeliers made entirely from discarded PET soft drink bottles, wire and other found plastic items. The installation’s playful grandeur, created using common and ordinary materials, aims to fascinate, surprise and delight as the ordinary is turned into the extraordinary. By re-envisioning the value and possibility of the seemingly worthless, Chandeliers takes our disposable culture and repurposes it into a fantasy world where status is irrelevant and the power of imagination rules – and you’re invited to share the power of dreaming: where once chandeliers were considered symbols of decadence, power and wealth, here they are all about what can happen when we see things differently.

Eureka Portal
Rotunda – Sturt Street East
A giant luminous gateway, mesmerising to view, with a magical, captivating appearance that creates a constellation of colours and mood. A sculptural light installation constructed out of hundreds of recycled plastic milk bottles, it’s both a landmark where people will wander throughout the night and a reflective piece that illuminates the spirit of Eureka, evoking the heady days of the gold rush and symbolism of the Southern Cross. The Eureka Portal glows in the night as hundreds of brightly coloured LEDs light up its columns, while the centrepiece contains a bright blue field with five pointed stars.

Five Angry Men – The Bells
Lydiard Street South
The sound of bells tolling resides deeply within our collective consciousness. From as far back as the Bronze Age, bells would bring the surrounding community news – of celebration or mourning, of proclamation or warning. The ringer of the bells, the campanologist, was charged with this great responsibility. For White Night Ballarat, five modern-day campanologists will assemble a giant bell tower in which they will perform as the timekeepers of night, tolling every hour on the hour. The eight-metre high tower, featuring five huge ropes attached with a combination of bungee cords and specially designed audio switching systems, will act as a musical instrument in which the performers will alternate between precise choreography, intricate musical pieces and aerial chaos, showcasing extraordinary physical feats of endurance and discipline.

Ghosts of Eureka
Laneway behind the Sporting Globe
Ghosts of Eureka is a large-scale mural, light and audio installation depicting the British Redcoats as they set out to march on rebel miners, almost 164 years ago at the Eureka Stockade. The skeletons depicted are those of British Army Redcoats. They appear as if still alive, marching in full military uniform, as they did in the mortal realm. They represent the passage through two worlds – the realm of the dead and the realm of the living, the continuity between life and death.

Sturt Street West
Step into a world of giant cocoons, where only your touch will awaken their silent singing and broadcast their harmonies to the world. Metamorphosis is an installation landscape of giant, glowing, musical cocoons. Enter in, reach out and make contact to discover their unique sonic personalities. From realistic insect clicks, chirps and chatters to distorted sci-fi resonance, Metamorphosis is the meeting place of nature and technology. Inspired by the intricate wonders of the insect world, the cocoons of Metamorphosis are invisibly interconnected. As you explore, you may see a ripple of light pulse through many, or hear the whole field respond in harmony.

Throughout Precinct
Ballarat’s gold rush buildings provide a magnificent canvas for White Night’s famed projections, and this year even more buildings will be lit up. The Electric Canvas and DAE White Night will for the first time create projection mappings on the Ballarat Town Hall, and will also project onto the Art Gallery of Ballarat, The Mining Exchange, the Post Office Gallery, Craig’s Royal Hotel and more.

Tectonic Grounds: The Kinetic Australian Landscape
White Box Theatre – Federation University
Tectonic Grounds explores the blurring between the physical and digital landscapes that we will navigate in the future. United Make, in collaboration with Melbourne School of Design students and Cube Zero, will build an interactive forest redefining the Australian natural landscape at night with a focus on the question “What is natural today?” The forest will be rigged with light sensors, arduinos, stepper motors, laser cut ‘flowers’ and mechanical gears that will bloom and react to the lightest touch, or light from our phones.

White Night Ballarat runs from 7.00pm Saturday 17 March to 2.00am Sunday 18 March 2017. For more information, visit: www.whitenight.com.au for details.

Image: Close-Act presents Birdmen (supplied)