Culture and heritage

Spectacular art trail set to mesmerise Docklands

29 June 2023

Imagine standing at Marvel Stadium at night and seeing astounding illuminations stretching into the distance. An epic art trail is coming to Docklands to open our new major festival: Now or Never.

The free Now or Never Art Trail is a 1.2 km journey of technology-based contemporary art installations from local and international creatives. The line-up is curated by Experimenta – an organisation devoted to the future of art.

Kim de Kretser, Managing Director of Experimenta, said the artworks will be captivating to behold, and deeply poignant when people pause to contemplate.

“Docklands is evocative by night and the artworks have been selected and commissioned specifically for the site and the Now or Never theme,” Kim said.

“The installations will be embedded into the landscape, illuminating it in new ways. You’ve never seen Docklands like this before.”

“There’s a common thread running through the works. It’s about how we connect with life beyond the immediate, to the celestial, the biological and the artificial, and what we do now before we step into an unknown future state.”

A child using an an interactive visual touch screen device.
ECHO/OHCE by Georgie Pinn

The Now or Never Art Trail will feature stunning and poetic works designed to spark joy and contemplation. Many of them are interactive. Here are a few program highlights:

  • ECHO/OHCE by Georgie Pinn invites audiences to interact with a giant projection-mapped sculpture. The artwork’s morphing face uses animated portraits collected from more than 40,000 international participants. This work contemplates empathy for machines and through machines to each other.
  • Holon by Jon McCormack explores nature-machine symbiosis. Over 100 solar-powered organisms will create their own habitat on the waterfront, feeding back sounds and voices from their environment.
  • Infinity by Universal Everything shows a never-ending procession of characters commuting across a massive screen. Children tend to mimic the characters, while adults think they’re being mimicked.
  • Living well by Jarra Karalinar Steel is a text-based animation that will be projected onto Library at The Dock. The work honours the artist’s Boonwurrung heritage – ancestors who passed down their wisdom and strength so new generations can create, reclaim and rebuild a better future.
  • Of sky and sea by Michaela Gleave beams endangered and extinct languages skyward in morse code. A linked website stays live for 20 months – the time it takes the light to exit our solar system.
  • Soul Shift by Paris-based artist Justine Emard is a film enacting the possible meeting of two generations of the same ground-breaking robot called Alter and the intimate interaction between them. The identical figures explore gestures that could be understood as intrigue, recognition and even affection.
  • Theatre of Thunder is an atmospheric installation offering a galaxy of ideas and joyful engagement. Children can spend hours popping smoke bubbles, wrapped up in a new world.

“It’s amazing to work with such incredible minds, artists and technologists. Their ideas are complex and exciting. We are delighted to present these experiences to the people of Melbourne,” Kim said.

“I encourage people attending the event to use the QR codes to explore the works more deeply. The ideas and creative processes behind them are utterly fascinating.”

One robot bends in front of another robot who is inspecting it's wiring.
Soul Shift by Justine Emard

The Now or Never Art Trail promises an evening of family-friendly fun, complemented by a tasty line-up of food trucks and a pop-up bar by Moon Dog Craft Brewery.

The immersive event will take place along Victoria Harbour Promenade from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20 August, supported by the Victorian Government’s Melbourne City Recovery Fund.

To learn more, visit Now or Never.

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