The tale of Newcastle’s oldest street includes convict gangs and bearded ladies pouring beers and these stories, along with those of local filmmakers, will light up the walls of Watt Street when City Evolutions launches next month. The project is a landmark contemporary art project and features a series of light installations using cutting edge interactive technology developed by students at the University of Newcastle.

City Evolutions will launch with a free street party at 5pm, Friday 21 June and will continue from sunset to 10pm every night for a year. 

The University of Newcastle was selected from a range of submissions from artists and creative collaborators who were invited to submit proposals that took inspiration from the history of Watt Street – the stories, people and places that have shaped Newcastle as it is today. 

The University of Newcastle’s City Evolutions Project Leader, Chris Tucker, said more than 20 academics and researchers from the schools of architecture, computer science, design, communications and IT had worked together to develop the technology.

“Newcastle is an emerging creative, digital and technological hub and the University is very excited to be working together with the community to transform the city’s cultural and historical precinct,” Mr Tucker said.

“Visitors will be able to play video games projected on Watt Street structures, such as the David Maddison building, using their smart phones and near field communications. This is similar to pay wave technology. All visitors need to do is tap their phones on the stickers at the site, download a game app and then play against each other.”

“People can also enjoy the nocturnal art gallery simply by walking down Watt Street, where motion detection systems will sense movement and trigger historical scenes and artworks in light along the buildings.

“While we reflect on where our city has come from, it’s appropriate that all parts of the community have worked on this project together to transform Newcastle East into a hive of night-time activity.”

Budding film makers are invited to be part of the exhibition and see their short films projected onto the façade of one of the buildings in the city centre. The theme for the competition is ‘the evolution of Newcastle’ – from how the city has changed over time and historic places to childhood memories or events that shaped the city. 

To enter, anyone can upload a short film of no more than 90 seconds (.mp4 format) to YouTube or Vimeo and email the URL to cityevolutions@ncc.nsw.gov.au and they’re in the running.  Entries close on Monday 17 June 2013.

City Evolutions is an initiative of The City of Newcastle and Newcastle Now in partnership with the University of Newcastle, with funding support from the Department of Energy, Resources and Tourism and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.