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Five Questions with first-year Design student Sebastian Barkoczy

We talk with first-year Design student Sebastian Barkoczy about his love of light and recent installation, Robotanic for Vivid 2015. 


We talk with first-year Design student Sebastian Barkoczy about his love of light and recent installation, Robotanic for Vivid 2015. 

1.     Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became to be a student at NIDA?

I have always been interested in design and fascinated by how things work. Growing up, I spent all my time and money making models and sculptures from whatever I could get my hands on. 

After school I took time off to travel the world, and upon returning I decided to pursue my longtime interest in design. This led me to study Design for Live Production, Theatre and Events at Enmore Design Centre. During this time, I was working part-time in the entertainment industry as an art director and props maker for commercials and music videos, which I thoroughly enjoyed and helped to cement my interest in the industry.

My fascination with lighting came from a project I completed during the one-year course, where I used the inside of a highlighter and UV light to create a font. By using light in this way, I suddenly discovered the endless design possibility of this unique material. 

Off the back of that project, my teacher told me about the NIDA Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design for Performance) which was in the process of introducing Lighting Design as an area of specialism within the design course and urged me to apply. I did and here I am! 

2.     How are you finding the course to date?

The course has been great so far – both the facilities and faculty are amazing and I'm excited to learn the ropes. 

It has been challenging juggling study commitments and my recent project at Vivid but that is over now, so I’m looking forward to focusing on my upcoming NIDA projects including the October production season.

3.     Tell us about Robotanic and how this collaboration came about?

Robotanic is a light installation, a series of 10 interactive tree-like sculptures inspired by the sounds and colours of nature that featured as part of the 2015 Vivid Light Festival earlier this year. Our aim was to create an interactive environment where people could be reminded of our surrounds in a playful, futuristic way.

A friend, Thomas Martin, and I came up with the idea over a few casual drinks. Martin had previously featured work at Vivid and approached me to enter this year so with about two weeks before the entry deadline, we decided to give it a go and rushed to get our submission together. 

We could not believe our luck when not only had our proposal been selected, it was chosen to feature as part of the media launch of Vivid 2015 at the Sydney Opera House. Vivid also asked us to double the size of our installation so it could be one of the main attractions for the Martin Place precinct. 

Once our submission was accepted, we then had the challenge of making 10 interactive sculptures in six months from our friend’s workshop and garage. We are very grateful for all the support from friends, family and sponsors, without which we would never have been able to complete the project. 

When the installation was finally finished and part of the Martin Place precinct, it was amazing to see so many people interact with it. I think approximately 1.5 million people went through that precinct and had the opportunity to see Robotanic during the festival, which is quite astounding when you think about it.

It was such a stressful time but I’d do it all again in a moment. In fact, we are already planning the Vivid 2016 proposal and are hoping to make it bigger and better.

4.     What drew you to light as a material of choice?

The revelation aspect of light, the way you can flick a switch or trigger a sensor and an entire object or environment can transform into something completely different, caught my eye and my interest has grown from there. 

I’m not really sure as I am excited by all areas of design. My ultimate dream would be to gain the skills and confidence to pursue many areas of design and be able to collaborate on projects with people from different fields. Being here at NIDA with artists from different disciplines, I feel like I’m on the right path to accomplish that. 

Photography courtesy of Vivid 2015.

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