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This 3D-Printed VIVID Installation Brings Music from Inside the Sydney Opera House to the Masses

Ever wanted to listen to a Sydney Opera House concert outdoors?
June 2, 2016, 7:31am
One of the Sound Cells broadcasting music from within the Sydney Opera House. Photography by Rocket Weijers

Ever wanted to listen to a Sydney Opera House concert outdoors? Thanks to a series of sound canopy installations designed for VIVID 2016, the music being performed within the famous white sails is being broadcast out into the surrounding forecourt for everyone to enjoy. Printed on the largest 3D printer in Australia, the cloud-like Sound Cells are made from plastic sourced from recycled water bottles. When they’re not playing audio from inside the Sydney Opera House, the Cells treat festival-goers to immersive music programmed by Perth producer Ta-ku, accompanied by graphics from media artist Sam Price.

Projected light graphics from visual artist Sam Price. Photography by Rocket Weijers

Artist Joe Crossley headed the project, which was born out of a collaboration between Intel, the Sydney Opera House and VICE Australia. Crossley had previously worked with the Sydney Opera House on Sound + Vision, a synesthetic live music project exploring the intersection of art, music and technology.

The three Sound Cells scattered outside the Sydney Opera House are optically linked to its Grammy Award-winning Intel Broadcast Studios, providing VIVID festival-goers with intimate access to the performances within. This Friday even non-Sydneysiders can get in on the action, with a Vivid LIVE Sydney Opera House performance by Ta-ku also being streamed via YouTube.


Intel and the Sydney Opera House initially approached Crossley to develop a way to “crack open” the Sydney Opera House and bring the music playing inside to a mass audience. Speaking to The Creators Project, the artist says that the process came together over a short period of about eight weeks.  “The live broadcast system was developed in conjunction with the tech teams at the Sydney Opera House and the Intel units inside allow us to remotely view and stream the shows out to the cells via optic fibre. It feels great, like a crystal time warp in music and artwork.”

The Sound Cells project was filled with groundbreaking moments—including printing the largest scale 3D objects in Australia, with the help of teams in San Francisco and Los Angeles. “The idea for the shape comes from a love of crystals and polygon shapes,” Crossley tells us.

Installing one of the cells outside the Sydney Opera House. Photography by Jessica Harris

Crossley says watching crowds interact with the structures has been rewarding. “Gate crashing a group of people dancing under the cells the other night was a highlight,” he says. “People smiling and feeling the sound and the visuals under the crystalline ceiling is great to watch when all that work has gone into it.”

Crowds interact with the Sound Cells. Photography by Rocket Weijers

You can head down to the Sydney Opera House forecourt to experience the Sound Cells for yourself nightly until June 18, and live stream Ta-ku’s Vivid LIVE performance at 9pm on Friday June 3 from this link. For more information about Vivid LIVE 2016, view the program here.


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