Living in colour

Woman observing the Living Lights display at Vivid Sydney

Woman observing the Living Lights display at Vivid Sydney. Photography: Kevin Cheung

This year, UTS became the first university to have its own installation at Sydney’s annual festival of light and music — Vivid Sydney — with a living, breathing ‘algae forest’ of coloured light.

Created by UTS’s Climate Change Cluster (C3) and Deep Green Biotech Hub (DGBH), the installation harvested the energy of the sun to sustain and nourish the algae, which was housed in 18 vertical tubular reactors. At night, the 2.5–metre tall reactors were illuminated with bright LED lights, showcasing the red, gold and fluorescent green hues of the different algae strains.

Although algae sustain the health of our oceans and provide 50 per cent of the air we breathe, these microscopic plants don’t often get the credit they deserve. Professor Peter Ralph, C3 Director, says the aim of the colourful display was to shake off the ‘slimy’ image associated with algae and open people’s minds to its potential as a revolutionary raw material in clean energy, medicine, food, and nutraceuticals.

Story by Kevin Cheung