The Ship Song Project As World Building

A book about a living, evolving building can never truly be finished. The most it can do is chart a cycle. I tried to write along the arrow of time, keeping everything in the present tense, but while noting the aspects of the life of the building that have had a profound effect that doesn’t leave a trace in the same way architecture does. .

“The Ship Song” video project, directed by Paul Goldman, in 2011 was a powerful evocation of the life of the building, featuring all of the Australian arts companies resident at the Opera House, and several, mostly Australian, rock musicians. It began inside the building, spiralling out to the exterior through backstage and service areas, rehearsal rooms, venues, foyers, and ending on an aerial shot at dawn.

Nick Cave didn’t appear in the video but his collaborations and range of activities make him a one person arts ecosystem, a perfect spirit creature for the Opera House. .

A consequence of Jorn Utzon placing the two largest venues side-by-side on the site is that the Green room became the literal heart of the building. There’s a semi circle of screens hanging from the ceiling that show the performances in progress in each of the venues, so that the technicians and performers can watch for cues while taking a break. Within that you see how the performances create an ecosystem, with serendipitous connections between shows and companies. “The Ship Song” Video opened up that perspective to everyone.


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