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Sydney 2000 as an example of InfoVis
by Juan C. Dürsteler [message nº 12]

The opening ceremony of the recently finished Sydney 2000 Olympic Games has been an excellent exercise of Information Visualisation and of brand creation. Australia has been able to capitalise with noticeable success the outstanding occasion that the Games offer to express, to gain prestige and to project a unique image on a world-wide scale.

A ceremony like this is a multifaceted event that goes from being playful to emotional passing through musical show. Not to forget the technical aspects like the complex organisation of the huge amount of people involved or the choreography.

Nevertheless the final goal of said ceremonies is the emission of an implicit message, that is served by all the other stuff. In the case of Sydney's one the metaphor of a girl's dream at the beach serves as a lead thread to present all the components of the message, that are:

  • We have a great country: the geographical and physical reality of the continent island; their sea and interior (more than 80% of the 19 million of Australians live at the seaside). Choreography of 'Deep Sea Dreaming' and 'Fire'.
  • A part of us is aboriginal. The aboriginal community has seized the opportunity to use the huge media impact to vindicate their demands and to advance toward reconciliation, a pending and sensible issue. Choreography of 'Awakening'.
  • We take care of Nature, Ecology is important for us. Through the choreography of 'Nature' and also through the excellent work done in the Olympic area, laid out on an old industrial zone in which the use of alternative energies has been preferent.
  • In a world more and more cosmopolitan, we already are multiethnic. Choreography of 'Arrivals' with people from the five continents entering the stadium symbolising the massive immigration towards Australia.
  • We dominate  technology, as was demonstrated in the lighting system of the cauldron. The fact that the person who initiated the lighting was an aboriginal and a woman (Cathy Freeman) adding still more symbolism to this part of the ceremony.

Summarising, the message that Australia is a modern, multiethnic country with natural richness that is reconciliating with the aboriginals and respectful towards Ecology. A message with an audience of several billions worldwide. A unique media opportunity.

With the unavoidable concession to show business, the ceremony built a global set of visual and auditive perceptions; a way for the transmission of the symbols and experiences that gave form to the institutional message.

It's no chance that behind all this was RIC Birch, an experienced professional with a large understanding of the show business language, who had already participated in the making of the ceremonies of Los Angeles'84 and Barcelona'92.

A brilliant exercise of institutional advertising and of Information Visualisation and Information Design.

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