Melbourne Skyline Set Alight with Canadian Art

Imaginary night Sun illuminated over Federation Square

Man watches Solar Equation

Solar Equation over Federation Square

"Our Sun. You really are renewable, a forever changing constant. How powerful you really are when even a small copy provides us with endless warmth."

In celebration of Melbourne’s The Light in Winter festival, an imaginary night Sun 100 million times smaller than the real thing was illuminated over Federation Square.

This piece, known as the Solar Equation, is the work of Canadian-Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Solar Equation is an interactive public art installation that mimics the Sun’s surface using NASA imagery. Individuals were able to control the animations of the sun using smartphone and touchscreen devices.

The solar animation on the balloon is generated by live mathematical equations that simulate the turbulence, flares and sunspots that can be seen on the surface of the Sun.

These equations produce a constantly changing display that never repeats itself, giving viewers a glimpse of the majestic phenomena that are observable at the solar surface. These are relatively new discoveries that have been made possible by recent advances in astronomy.

The Light in Winter is an annual celebration of light, enlightenment and hope. This free winter program brings together local and international artists, designers and multicultural communities with a series of light-based artworks, community events and a mid-winter Solstice Celebration.

The Consulate General of Canada in Sydney worked with Federation Square throughout the development stages of this ambitious project. The Consulate assisted by liaising with key sponsors such as Air Canada and facilitated the international travel logistics of the installation.

Every culture has a unique set of solar mythologies and this project seeks to be a platform for both the expression of traditional symbolism and the emergence of new stories.

As part of Federation Square's Environmental Sustainability policy, the energy that is used to power The Light in Winter, the Big Screen and all external events at Federation Square comes from wind-generated green power.