Festivals – The hits and misses of White Night Melbourne 2014

Once again Melbourne pulled its annual all-nighter festival White Night, with a bigger crowd and bigger ideas. The second year running in this transformative event, organisers had to step up to recreate the magic felt by the debut of the festival in February last year. With hundreds of thousands more people than last year, topping off over half a million individuals, the international festival saw festival-goers exploring places they never knew existed in our wonderful city. Running over twelve hours from 7pm – 7am featuring eye-opening experiences, many youngsters wanting to experience the whole festival ended up sprawled across the ground fighting to stay awake towards the sun rising hours.

Hits:

Moonlight Synchro – Syncrhonised swimming located at the Melbourne City Baths at the far end of the festival and city. The signs outside the venue said that the waiting time was 60 minutes but at times the queue went through a lot quicker.

Photograph by Lillian Altman
Photograph by Lillian Altman

Music, Melbourne + Me – Located at the RMIT Gallery at RMIT University near Melbourne Central, Music, Melbourne + Me features record breaking record plaques, costumes, live shots and other music paraphernalia from Michael Gudinski’s personal collection. The exhibition celebrates 40 years that Gudinski has been running Mushroom Records, the company the music promoter has been running since the 70s. The end of the exhibition featured a cube structure with interchangeable images behind University students showcasing their DJing skills.

Photograph by Lillian Altman
Photograph by Lillian Altman

Vladmaster Viewmaster Experience – Viewmaster’s are those plastic goggle movie viewers we all had as a kid. Located in one of the ACMI cinemas, viewers are handed a Viewmaster and 2 sets of four discs. Two stories were narrated to the audience with instructions when to click to the next scene; music and sound effects were also thrown in for a better viewing experience.

Lightlounge – One of the foyer areas of the ACMI featured interchangeable coloured round fairy lights to roof a disco area.

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Photograph by Lillian Altman

Spectacle: The Music Video Exhibition – This exhibition exploring the music video as an art form was open for free on the night, marking the last day of the exhibition. You can read my review of the exhibition here.

I Could Have Danced All Night – Federation Square was constantly swarmed with people as the stage featured different styles of dance performers on on the hour. Festival-goers were letting loose as the dancers on the stage taught them the moves for the dances they were performing.

Morphological Adornment – As per last year, the big WHITE NIGHT letters across Princes Bridge above the Yarra River was transformed throughout the night. Last year artists drew in black but this year the letters were splashed in colour. It was interesting walking past the letters throughout the night and watching them being transformed right in front of your eyes.

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Photograph by Lillian Altman

Tattooed City – Last year saw images of Claude Monet’s paintings (the current exhibition at the time) strewn across the facade of the NGV , this year it was everyday people showing off their tattoos.

Photograph by Lillian Altman
Photograph by Lillian Altman

Misses:

I Heart Melbourne – Melbourne Central’s famous Shot Tower showcased images relating to the heart. The short animation was boring and non-sensical and the music accompanying it was creepy.

Young Prayer – Located in the St Michael’s Uniting Church, a guitar was suspended by a wire from the roof and smashed onto the floor at intervals; all the while a sound was being emitted that made you cover your ears and run out of the church as fast as you can. This performance piece was supposed to explore the spiritual characteristics of rock, but their ain’t anything spiritual about a high pitched annoying sound.

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Forum Theatre – Despite the colourful facade of the historic building being an inviting scene, the Forum Theatre only allowed access to 18+ patrons of the festival, and for a good reason, the scene in there wasn’t for the faint hearted. One room within the venue featured footage of Stelarc, a local performance artist, suspended above a sculpture of an arm with an ear halfway down the limb. The artist was naked and held from the roof by about 10 hooks piercing his back and limbs. Most people sat down watching, but my friends and I quickly walked through shocked that people in the theatre and in the film were watching without wincing.The main theatre area showcased Lisa Roet’s monkey heart on the screen at the back of the stage. The 3D image of a half gorilla/half human heart pulsated on the screen accompanied by music. This exhibition was boring without having known the background history behind it. Many people were sitting in the theatre just to rest or get away from the hundreds of thousands of people swarming outside.

Vortex – ‘Love locks’ locked to the bridge and a dome like structure above you as you walk over the bridge were nothing special. Dubbed as ‘delighting audiences as they walk through’, there was nothing exciting about this illumination at all. All you felt like doing was lying on the bridge and just staring at the flashing lights.

Crepuscular Beam – These beams shining kilometres high in the sky look amazing from afar and drew you in to check them out but once you found it’s originating location there was nothing really to so.

Events and activities I didn’t check out but would have liked to:

Purple Rain at Old Melbourne Gaol, Molecular Kaleidoscope at the State Library of Victoria, A Darker Shade of Dark #1-4 at Federation Square, Auto-perception, The Signal Screen at Flinders Walk, Silent Disco at NGV, Melbourne Now gallery at NGV.

What did you like about the festival? What didn’t you like about the festival? Any suggestions of things you think I should definitely see/do next year if they return?

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