Sydney Festival to put Your Name in Lights

In January, the Sydney Festival will give 100,00 people their 15 seconds of fame.

John Baldessari's Your Name in Lights project will display the names of more than 100,00 registered people on "the world's largest TV" -- a 30-metre screen on the William Street façade of the Australian Museum.

The 30-metre by 1.9-metre by 18-millimetre LED VuePix screen has the odd resolution of 1664x96 pixels, made by Technical Directions Company (TDC), which creates large-scale screens for projects such as outdoor music festivals. However, this is somewhat of a first as most screens are erected for a day, not a month.

Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week from 9pm January 8 until midnight January 30, it is estimated the screen will consume a maximum of 5356-kilowatt hours of electricity over its 23 days of operation.

John Bayley, Sydney Festival's head of production, was hesitant to put a dollar amount on the project, but admitted it cost well over $100K to rent the screens, which is put together from pieces that they fit together like Lego blocks. This means they can be taken apart easily and put into any formation, from a traditional rectangle or square to a triangle or more creative shape.

The screen is composed of a see-through mesh that "hangs" like a curtain, chosen because it is 80 per cent lighter than other options and is wind-permeable. To secure the screen to the balcony of the building, "very chunky custom build framing" is being attached with rigging to secure it.

So what happens between the time you register your details on the website? The are three parts to the process: two companies have been contracted to capture the registered names, and a third -- Jomablue -- has built custom software to integrate the names with Baldessari's template design.

There will be an intelligent view-cam hooked up to the screen which will send a text message to the repair person in the event of it failing, so any technical issues can be rectified in a timely manner.

Sydney Festival began coding the back-end of the project on November 1, a month before it was scheduled to start crash-testing the software on a sample-sized screen.

Sydney Festival director, Lindy Hume, told, "'Serious' art and popular culture meet on the corner of William and College streets with Baldessari's Your Name in Lights. For Sydney Festival audiences this is a spectacular photo opportunity for 15 glittering seconds, but for 'serious' art lovers this is a chance to see and participate in the world premiere of a new creation by John Baldessari, one of the most celebrated names of the global contemporary art scene."

"Inspired by Andy Warhol's now iconic, then-throwaway, line about everybody having their 15 minutes of fame, Your Name in Lights is a spectacular opportunity for everyone to be famous, even for 15 spectacular seconds. What better city than Sydney to embrace that idea!"

For more on John Baldessari, see what he had to say after receiving the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2009:

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