You Can Fly A Drone In Sydney Right Now (And Other Reasons To Visit ‘Transcendence’ At Vivid)

'Transcendence' is a mesh of future technology and interactive art that’s taken over Martin Place. And: it's kind of great.

Brought to you by Intel

Inspired By Intel

Together with Intel Australia, we’re exploring Vivid Sydney 2015.

If you haven’t already guessed from the higher-than-usual amount of human traffic at night and all the ridiculously well-lit footpaths, plant life and buildings in the CBD, Vivid Sydney – the beloved annual winter festival of lights, music and ideas – is here until early June.

There’s no shortage of excellent fun things to do in Sydney over the next two weeks, from exploring digital botanical gardens that make sweet forest sounds and smell real good too, to talk series that mesh completely different topics, to events celebrating art and street culture, to helpful panels about the creative economy and changing workplace.

Another highlight at this year’s Vivid is  Transcendence: a mesh of future technology and interactive art that’s taken over Martin Place.

Credit: supplied.

Designed by UK artist Joseph Crossley, Transcendence is a high-tech pop up bar-slash-art installation-slash-foodie heaven, with Cow & Moon (the folks behind the world’s best gelato [which you’ll never get sick of hearing about, unless you live in the inner west]), as well as Poklol (creators of next level street food), The Thievery and Porteno running the stalls. In other words, ​Transcendence is​ your​ ​go-to Vivid hangout​ this year​.​ ​It’s about 7m tall and stands in the middle of Martin Place, so you can’t miss it.

But also, seriously, you can’t miss it. Here are the reasons why:

#1: You Love Surprises

Unless you harbour a deep loathing for them, surprises are delightful; like when you put on an old coat you haven’t worn in ages and then find five bucks in the pocket.

Each night at Transcendence, a different hand-picked artist will be running the data-driven light display, which are projected onto the towering structure using the latest technology in computer mapping and projection mapping. So you might like the displays one night, hate them the next, or not even notice at all.

The night I went, it was mostly colourful amorphous shapes swirling around; computer-generated and driven by data/code, which is fascinating when you’re talking about who or what is responsible for the creation of digital art.


Credit: supplied.

#2: You Get One Of The Best Views Of All The Pretty Lights

By that I mean having the best seat in the house: in the very work itself.

Transcendence is an immersive, interactive space, replete with a light-up drum circle and ‘Robotanic’ “trees” that illuminate as you approach them. You can experience art outside while being inside it, which should make for some great snaps/selfies/photobombs.


#vividsydney has begun #martinplace A photo posted by Nicole Wegrzyn (@nwegz) on

A photo posted by Sean Rich (@sean.the.sheep) on

#3: You Like Playing With Toys

After previewing their RealSense 3D technology at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES; one of the largest annual tech gatherings), Intel have brought it to the Vivid crowd – who get to be among the first to try it out.


Credit: supplied.

RealSense is a 3D camera that’s premised on making human-to-device interaction more natural and intuitive.

So with gesture control depth-sensing capabilities, this means that you can smile, wink and wave, and your computer will know what you want. Which is either pretty amazing or kinda terrifying, depending on how anxious you are about the future.

It also means computer mice could become a thing of the past; soon you’ll be able to swipe, click and scroll (with your hands) in thin air. You won’t need to remember your passwords, either; instead, you can simply log into your computer with a 3D scan of your face. This, the lady at the Intel booth assures me, is very accurate, and much more secure. (I resist the urge to ask her the following questions in quick succession: ‘What if I fall down the stairs and break my nose?’ ‘What if I have a doppelganger?’ ‘What if someone rips off my face and puts it on their face? WHAT THEN??’)

#4: You Get To Fly A Drone

Another first for Vivid is ‘A Game of Drones’, which is exactly what you think it sounds like: it is a game and there are drones. Brightly-lit, multi-coloured drones.

Using a tablet to remotely control them, the aim here is to battle it out in the air with other drones, to make it to the top of the cage.


Credit: James Horan/Destination NSW



That is all.

Vivid Sydney is on until June 8, with Transcendence open every night from 6pm-midnight at Martin Place.

Andy is a former intern at Junkee. She has since gone on to edit Vertigo magazine, curate TEDx Youth at the Sydney Opera House, and now does stuff for Electrofringe. Find her talking words, arts and culture on 2ser.  

Feature image credit: James Horan/Destination NSW