The new City Evolutions project, launching this Friday, will give visitors to Newcastle East the chance to play video games and interact with movies projected onto Watt Street’s heritage buildings using their smartphones, thanks to cutting-edge technology developed by the University of Newcastle.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said academics and researchers working across architecture, computer science, software engineering, design and IT, and fine art have spent more than 10,000 hours developing the breakthrough contemporary art project.

“This ground-breaking project demonstrates the University of Newcastle’s cross-disciplinary research is bringing world-class creativity to the region,” Professor McMillen said.

“On this project alone, more than 30 researchers across five disciplines have worked together to create interactive digital projections that tell the story of Newcastle,” she said.

Visitors will be able to interact with many of the digital projections on Newcastle landmarks, such as the Watt Street Commercial building, using their smartphones and ‘near field communications’, similar to pay wave technology.

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

Professor McMillen said the project was an exciting and innovative way to tell the history of our city.

“Newcastle is an emerging creative, digital and technological hub which hasn’t forgotten its roots as one of Australia’s industrial powerhouses. The University is delighted to be working with the City Council to transform Newcastle East into an interactive night-time space, telling the story of the city’s journey,” Professor McMillen said.

“City Evolutions will be a fixture in the city for at least the next year, and will be changing as the year progresses – Newcastle should be ready for some dazzling surprises on Watt Street.”

City Evolutions will launch with a free street party from 5pm on Friday, June 21, and the installations will remain there between sunset and 10pm each evening for at least one year.

For further information and a full outline of the artworks, visit

The University of Newcastle received a grant from Newcastle City Council to undertake City Evolutions, with funding support from the Department of Energy, Resources and Tourism and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and Newcastle Now.

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City to light up with tales of the past – Newcastle Herald