White Night Melbourne set to illuminate Victoria’s Capital

WNM Royal Exhibition Building Pitcha Makin' Fellas and OCUBO - photo by Rohan ShearnWhite Night Melbourne will transform the city from 7.00pm on Saturday 18 February through installation, lighting, exhibitions, street performances, film, music, dance and interactive events and takes place in Melbourne’s streets and laneways, parklands, public spaces and cultural institutions. Australian Arts Review takes a look at twelve activities worth checking out on the night:

Engineers Lawn – Alexandra Gardens 
Is it a sculptural piece of art? A technological production? The intersection of Euclidean space? Or something else altogether? One thing is sure: the sheer brightness and magisterial presence of Axiom demands your attention. Axiom is an edifice of light, sculpted from a matrix of more than 700,000 LEDs. Its digital skin and multi-dimensional form encompasses three triangular, symmetrically aligned archways, presenting a canvas for a series of video animations designed to embody and envelop its surfaces and contours.

Southbank Promenade
Like a massive tree from an alien eco-system, Echinodermus grows tall in Melbourne for White Night. Inspired by the echinocactus family, Echinodermus’ shiny leaves stretch to 11m tall. Slender and surreal with its glowing fruits swaying in the wind, this massive tree-like sculpture depicts a striking landscape.

QV Melbourne
As night falls, light explodes from The CUBE, a stunningly beautiful, transparent venue. The audience are invited to journey into the celestial heavens, right here on earth. Enlighten is a collaboration between award-winning physical theatre company Born in a Taxi, lighting visionary Bruce Ramus, visual artist and venue designer David Murphy and sound artist Michael Havir. Three angels inhabit this space, bridging the gap between the divine and the mortal. Images and sounds of the cosmos and all things heavenly interact with the performance to create an ethereal world that takes you from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Star Lawn – Alexandra Gardens

Illuminated in stark white light, five leviathan lagomorphs will take over Alexandra Gardens for the night. Intrude is a luminous, humorous installation, but don’t be fooled: while the adorable whoppers may look like the fairytale animals from our childhood, a furry innocence frolicking in idyllic fields, their cuteness is a facade for a more serious environmental message. Like their real-life counterparts, these huge hares are intruders, their jumbo size referencing ‘the elephant in the room’: the ecological disaster wrought by feral invaders that is vast but easily ignored.

More Than 1 Nation
Flinder Street (west)
A unique collaboration sees the stunning patterns and colours of the Pitcha Makin Fellas’ paintings, cut outs and stamps transposed by The Electric Canvas onto the Degraves Street entrance of Flinders Street Station. More Than 1 Nation constructs a visually beautiful tale of redemption, honour, triumph and renewal from a history that includes cultural misappropriation and degradation by European colonists. The pulling apart of Aboriginal culture and community gives way to a contemporary ‘roaring days’ era in which the roar in the Fellas’ story is the collective voice of Aboriginal Australians at the forefront of culture and community, reminding us that they were here before gold, were present on the goldfields and are still here, now.

Purple Rain
Little Lonsdale Street (east)
Referencing the legendary film and song by the late great artist formerly and forever known as Prince, French artist Pierre Ardouvin literally interprets the works’ melancholic spirit to create an unforgettable sensory experience, which proved to be one of the most popular works of both the 2011 Paris Nuit Blanche and White Night Melbourne 2014. The result is a breathtaking visual and sound installation that incites you to pick up a transparent umbrella and wander through an actual lilac-coloured shower.

Pyrophone Juggernaut
Melbourne Museum Plaza
Based on a 250-year-old experimental musical instrument, the Pyrophone Juggernaut is the largest hand-operated, multi-octave, fire organ in the world. Built entirely from reclaimed metal and industrial salvage, this massive metallic beast bellows an unearthly music of heart-pounding rhythms, ethereal melodies and subsonic percussive drones, all powered by monstrous jets of erupting flame! Operated by multiple musicians and performance artists armed with ignition and inspiration, the Pyrophone Juggernaut’s voyage is a tightly choreographed percussive extravaganza.

Rhythms of the Night
Royal Exhibition Building (south façade)
For the Sleepless Night, Artists in Motion will explore the four stages of sleep.
From onset through light sleep and into deep REM sleep, their projection on the Royal Exhibition Building will be driven by these stages, these rhythms, binding the audience together in a collective dream. Beginning with moments of reality, it will dissolve into the surreal before flying, running, falling through dreamy illusions that shatter abruptly when ‘real world’ interruptions – babies crying, sirens, loud music – occur.

Seadragon’s Lair
La Trobe Reading Room – State Library of Victoria
Immerse yourself in an epic 360° underwater adventure set against the backdrop of the State Library’s majestic domed La Trobe Reading Room. See the dome’s ornate heritage architecture disappear beneath a wall of water to reveal the spectacular seascapes of Port Phillip Bay. World-class animation, soundscapes and underwater cinematography collide to create a living canvas in Melbourne’s own marine metropolis. Visit gardens fashioned from sponges that explode in a kaleidoscope of colour and swaying canopies of kelp where elusive seadragons hide, chaotic walls of schooling fish, jewel-like but deadly nudibranchs, armies of giant spider crabs and other evolutionary marvels.

Sonic Light Bubble
Carlton Gardens
A living, breathing bubble sounds like some kind of more-adorable-than-terrifying Doctor Who foe, but this living, breathing bubble’s only purpose in ‘invading’ Carlton Gardens is nothing more than to beckon passers-by to engage and interact with its beauty. Dotted with shining LED spots, the Sonic Light Bubble is a warm and inviting synthetic organism that responds with mesmerising sound and multi-coloured, 360-degree visual delights when you approach and touch it.

Birrarung Marr – Upper Terrace
Inspired by flower-like shapes, Spherophyte is a kinetic sculpture of vast proportions that unfurls in a celebratory flourishing of near-constant motion. Simultaneously meditative and dynamic, euphoric and contemplative, it imparts a sense of captivating, geometric wonder. With 48 moving arms like gently swishing, shimmering petals, it comes alive under lights, ‘breathing’ in an endless, effortless cycle, folding and unfolding as shapes intersect, combine and dissolve. Reflecting the extraordinary complexity of life, Spherophyte encourages awe, delight, joy and reverence, regardless of whether viewed up close or from afar.

Viktor&Rolf – Inside Out
NGV International – moat & front façade
Inspired and informed by and celebrating the avant-garde work of Dutch fashion design duo Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, Viktor&Rolf – Inside Out is a projection installation that takes its audience on a journey through the walls of the National Gallery of Victoria and into the minds of the men responsible for some of the fashion world’s most inspired and innovative ‘wearable art’.

White Night Melbourne runs from 7.00pm Saturday 18 February to 7.00am Sunday 19 February 2017. For more information, visit: www.whitenightmelbourne.com.au for details.

Image: Pitcha Makin’ Fellas and OCUBO on the Royal Exhibition Building as part of White Night Melbourne 2016 – photo by Rohan Shearn