Vivid Aquatique is returning to Darling Harbour this year, complete with dancing fountains, enormous water screens, video projections, lasers and even marine fireworks. French company Aquatique Show International has been creating water shows for over 30 years for events across the world, including in China, England, Germany, South Korea, Spain and South Africa.

The first piece of good news is that this year’s Vivid Aquatique will be very different from 2013, with a larger and much more ambitious project. When Vivid asked Aquatique to produce a 360-degree show, the team decided to base its plans not on the shape of a circle but rather a four-pointed star. From there, the Southern Cross became the inspiration for the work, says Aquatique’s Jean Kohler.

“This design came because the Southern Cross has a direct relationship with the port and the history of the sea – the Southern Cross and the sea are related because it’s the only way to [find] your direction,” Kohler says. “The Southern Cross is also looking like a carrefour – a crossroad – between the north and south and the other continents, so that’s why bringing this kind of shape into the middle of a port had a direct relation with what we did.”

The show itself is a complex interweaving of the effects of water and light, which is further complicated by the decision to ensure that the same thing would be seen from every vantage point. Kohler admits, “It’s the first time in the world we will do this.”

“The shape of the Southern Cross is made in black PVC plastic cubes, and in the middle of this is a fountain floating,” explains Kohler. Images and lasers are projected onto the four water screens, he says, and some shows even include fireworks.

Aquatique is bringing more than double the material it did last year, which makes the whole development process somewhat problematic. “We have our factory in a little village in France and the factory was too small to put the star at the floor, so we did the setup at the street and everybody was asking what was going on, and we said, ‘This is going to Australia.’ For Australians, Europe is not so far, because the distances are big in Australia, but telling people in France you are going to Sydney, for some of them it is like if we go to the moon.”

Vivid Sydney is a festival dedicated to making art accessible and engaging the interest of the public. According to Kohler, this aim is also at the heart of the Aquatique project.

“I have never seen a specific age or social level or educative level [which enjoys Aquatique] more or less. The relationship with the fountain is the same relationship with water, and has the same relationship to humans as fire. Fire or water is an element, and when you begin to play with the elements you attract people.”

See Aquatique at Darling Harbour from Friday May 23 until Monday June 9 from 6 – 11pm, as part of the Sydney Vivid Festitval.

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