Sydney Opera House, Australia: May 26 - June 14, 2009

Brian EnoMARCH 19, 2009: Chief Executive Richard Evans today announced legendary artist and music producer Brian Eno will be the curator of the inaugural mid-year music Luminous festival at Sydney Opera House.

Luminous will feature thirty music acts, performances, light installations and talks across Bennelong Point as part of Vivid Sydney from May 26 to June 14.

Looking forward to being 'let loose' on Sydney Opera House, Brian Eno believes the artists in his program all share a single characteristic: they don't fall into any obvious category. "They are people who work in the new territories, the places in between, the places out at the edges," he said. "Some of them take old forms and infuse them with new life, and make them new again, and others have invented forms of art that didn't previously exist."

Luminous is a cornerstone of Vivid Sydney, a unique public festival that will transform the city into a spectacular living canvas of music and light in and around Sydney Opera House, The Rocks, Circular Quay and city centre.

One of five anchor events in the first-ever NSW Master Events Calendar created by Events NSW on behalf of the NSW Government, Vivid Sydney will showcase the city as a major creative hub in the Asia Pacific region and celebrate the diversity of Sydney's creative industries.

A highlight of Luminous will be the Australian premiere of Eno's 77 Million Paintings in The Studio across the entire three week festival. Entry to this visual art and sound installation will be free. Eno's designs will also be projected on the Opera House sails, as part of the Smart Light Sydney.

CEO Richard Evans said the Sydney Opera House programming team had wanted to establish a mid-year music festival for some time but realised this ambitious event would need the skills of a highly talented and respected curator with an address book that included music luminaries from around the world.

Like London's Barbican and Southbank, BAM in New York and UCLA Live! in Los Angeles, Sydney Opera House has a reputation for presenting the most eclectic series of artists and performers.

"Arts centres must be go-getters and willing to freshen up to attract new audiences. And more importantly they must believe in and support the best contemporary artists and cultural interpreters around," Mr Evans said.

"Major contemporary thinkers and artists such as Eno are setting trends and forging new territory in the arts and associated fields. Inviting Brian Eno into Sydney Opera House to curate Luminous will set the standard for future festivals at Sydney Opera House."

A founding member of Roxy Music, Brian Eno went on to release a string of seminal solo albums that defined the genre 'Ambient' music. He is also one of the most significant record producers of our time, having worked with artists like David Bowie, Coldplay, U2 and Talking Heads.

But his influence reaches far beyond music with an equally remarkable exploration of the visual arts. Much of Eno's work is interested in painting with light and using digital technology to create pieces that are constantly evolving, a pursuit that has influenced the Luminous program.

Music highlights include New York supergroup Battles, UK synth-popsters Ladytron, electronic whiz Jon Hopkins, the indescribable Reggie Watts and Fourth World composer and musician Jon Hassell.

The line up also includes reggae legend Lee 'Scratch' Perry, musical revolutionary Rachid Taha, Irish singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey and the cosmic Laraaji, whilst The Necks join Back to Back Theatre for the intense part-theatre, part-concert Food Court.

In residence at Sydney Opera House throughout Luminous, Eno will also be in conversation with artists and other guests as well as working with collaborators, including Underworld poet Karl Hyde, on the finale concert, Pure Scenius.

More acts and surprises will be added to the Luminous line-up with plenty of local and international artists to be announced in coming weeks.

Jon HassellLaraajiRachid TahaDamien Dempsey

I feel very honoured to have been invited to curate this festival. The brief I was given by Sydney Opera House can loosely be read as 'you suggest it and we'll organise it' which is about as generous and as trusting as one could ever dream of.

I've been an artist, or two or three artists, for my whole working life - it's really the only job I've ever had. In that time I've watched the ebb and flow of my 'own' ideas, and those of the culture around me. I've watched things develop from iconoclasm to cliché and back again, and seen ideas that were dismissed as ephemeral and inconsequential stay the course and outlast many that were at the time seen as important and substantial. I've also seen things recycle again and again, returning with new vigour as a new generation discovers them.

I wasn't trained as a musician. I went to art school, and, like many other art students of that time, I left college with my degree and promptly joined a band. However, I didn't give up my visual work for long. By the late 70's I was experimenting with and showing my video work, and this evolved over time into installations using first monitors, then projectors, and now plasma screens. And of course music. The installation 77 Million Paintings I'll be showing in Sydney is a continuation of a series which (in my mind, at least) are called "quiet clubs". These are clubs where nothing ever happens, slowly.

My own development as an artist owes a great deal to the people I've listened to and sometimes been fortunate enough to become associated with. As I look down the list in the program, I realise that all of them share a characteristic: they don't fall into any obvious category. They are people who work in the new territories, the places in between, the places out at the edges. Some of them take old forms and infuse them with new life, and make them new again, and others have invented forms of art that didn't previously exist.

I look forward to the experience of Sydney.

Brian Eno, International Curator, Luminous

Lee 'Scratch' PerryJon HopkinsLadytronBattles


For the first time, a major Eno artwork will be seen in Australia when the Luminous curator transforms The Studio into a free image and sound installation from May 26 to June 14. Brian Eno is unique both as an artist and a musician; an innovator and father to new genres as well as initiating prescient ways of thinking about both areas.

77 Million PaintingsWith his formal training in the visual arts, Eno has always insisted he is a "non musician" and that his sonic contribution to music had more to do with a visual response than a musical one. It is not then surprising that parallel to his remarkable musical career lays an equally individual exploration of the limits of art.

Over an esteemed artistic career spanning thirty years, Eno has exhibited in spaces as diverse as caves in Lanzarote through to the Venice Biennale. Much of his work explores an interest in painting with light, using monitors, sound and digital technology to create pieces that are constantly evolving.

Conceived as visual music, Eno's 77 Million Paintings is an everchanging image and sound installation that will run throughout the whole of Luminous as a free event in The Studio.

Harnessing 'self-generating software', three hundred of Eno's hand-drawn images are cut-up and rearranged to form an infinite number of variations. Completely random, entirely original and constantly evolving, the results come to life on luminous screens in a brilliant display of colour, shape and form.

An audio-visual masterpiece, layers of ambient sound interweave to create a complete piece of music. 77 Million Paintings can move as slowly as a clock making the transitions barely observable, allowing it to be experienced as a still, more traditional painterly piece.

Traditionally monitors have a tendency to speed up mental activity. In this piece Eno explores the possibilities of slowing it down. The result is a beautiful and serene work which encourages us to re-assess the role of the monitor as well as how and where we experience art.


In a major artwork by Brian Eno, Luminous launches with the lighting of the Sydney Opera House sails, part of the inaugural Smart Light Sydney event, part of Vivid Sydney. Like a free-form painting, Utzon's masterpiece will glow with rich, continuously changing configurations of colour. Reminiscent of a moving canvas, the imagery will be 'repainted' every night using computer technology.

Eno's spectacular lighting display will be a highlight of the Light Walk, a free public walk, showcasing dozens of local and international artists around Sydney's iconic harbour precinct from Sydney Observatory, through the Rocks and Circular Quay to Sydney Opera House, nightly from 6pm to midnight.

Light Walk will feature dynamic light art sculptures, interactive and performance-based art displays from talented local and international design luminaries including UK designer Alex Haw, Portuguese multi-media experimentalists Carole Purnelle and Nuno Maya, and leading Australian public artists and designers Warren Langley, Ruth McDermott and Tom Barker.

This exciting new event, conceived by Sydney born lighting designer and composer, Founder and Artistic Director Mary-Anne Kyriakou, will also encompass the Art Light exhibition and Smart Light Symposia at UTS and Licht, an orchestral and light art interpretation of composer Stockhausen's work at the Sydney Conservatorium Of Music.

"Smart Light Sydney will present new ideas for light art and architectural lighting in city environments through stunning light art sculptures and designs," said Mary-Anne.

"It will inspire memories for the city through the creation of new atmospheres and will engage through its innovative approaches that reduce energy consumption and light wastage and revitalise urban spaces."

Smart Light Sydney is also a partner of the UN International Year Of Astronomy 2009, highlighting the need for darker night skies through smart lighting in cities globally, and will celebrate Sydney Observatory's Festival Of The Stars to showcase the opportunities for spectacular stargazing thanks to reduced light pollution.

Smart Light Sydney is a cornerstone of the new Vivid Sydney festival created by Events NSW, which will be the biggest international music and light festival in the Southern Hemisphere. Vivid Sydney also features Luminous, a music festival at Sydney Opera House curated by Brian Eno, Fire Water, a free event featuring three nights of flame, food and spectacle in The Rocks and Creative Sydney, a series of creative industry seminars, workshops and performances.

Presented in association with Smart Light Sydney, the sails will remain lit for the three weeks of Luminous.

Sydney Opera House


Pure Scenius is Brian Eno's title for a concert to mark the end of the first Luminous festival at Sydney Opera House.

Devised and produced by Eno whilst he is in residence in Sydney, this distinctive one-off concert will be the surprise result of a collaboration between a number of artists, some of whom have appeared earlier in the Luminous program and other special guests, including Karl Hyde, the poet and voice of Underworld.

In the early '90s, along with band mates Rick Smith and Darren Emerson, Hyde assimilated techno into the art-rock tradition, lacing pulverising rhythms with frantic cut-up lyrics, eccentric humour, subtle textures and waves of improvisation.

Why 'pure scenius'? Eno describes this as 'the creative intelligence of a whole cultural scene'.

"My feeling is that culture is an ecology of ideas - and just as we wouldn't imagine a biological ecology where horses were seen as 'important' and goats as 'trivial', nor should we do the same thing with art. Such categorisations serve only to illuminate our own prejudices and tastes, and often, our snobberies," he says.

"The connections between one idea and those around it are subtle and complex. I am unable to separate 'my' ideas from the whole flow of ideas in the air around me.

"Without a doubt some scenes are more creative than others - think of Russia around the 1917 revolution, Berlin in the '20's and '30's, London and San Francisco in the '60's... all of those were possessed of 'scenius' - fertile breeding grounds for new cultural experiments."

The full line up and scale of Pure Scenius will not be finalised until May. This will be a one night only experience, unique to Sydney Opera House.