As part of the Melbourne Arts Precinct, the University of Melbourne is sponsoring the dynamic outdoor arts festival SummerSalt, currently underway until February 21, 2015

SummerSalt offers a lively program of music, dance, circus and theatre and celebrates all that the Melbourne Arts Precinct has to offer including from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne Theatre Company, Melbourne Recital Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria to name a few, reaching from Federation Square to Dodd Street Southbank.

Its main hub is between Sturt Street and Dodds Street, on the doorstep of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA).

Adrian Collette, Vice-Principal (Engagement) at the University of Melbourne said supporting SummerSalt was a fantastic way for the University to engage with and showcase to the public the extraordinary range of cultural and arts offerings being produced by its staff and students involved in the Precinct.

 “Being a part of the Melbourne Arts Precinct, and part of the city more broadly, SummerSalt is a great way for the University connect more widely to the community,” he said.

Director of the Victorian College of the Arts, Professor Su Baker is excited about the opportunity for the public to engage with VCA students’ work.
 
“SummerSalt has provided our students with the opportunity to create new works and to collaborate with other art practitioners and researchers. The festival is a great opportunity for the public to experience our students’ work and our campus.”

The University is not only a venue for the many events and activities, there are also a series of art installations from the Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne School of Engineering.

One of which is a giant art installation that responds to people’s movements.

Encounters, produced by researchers from the Microsoft Social Natural User Interface (NUI) Research Centre in the Melbourne School of Engineering, in partnership with the VCA, explores the world of human-computer interaction, or HCI.

Microsoft Kinect sensors detect audience members, triggering sound and lighting effects based their movements. Three VCA dance students and graduates add to the experience via a performance and participating with the audience members, while sporting ‘wearable technology’ which responds to their movements.

"The project aims to take computational innovation from the lab to the streets,” said Microsoft NUI centre director Associate Professor Frank Vetere. “Excitingly, it is also part of a broader research agenda looking at how technology can be used to facilitate people’s social interaction in public spaces.”

During SummerSalt, the University is also running Art Attack, a mural which is being created live in the heart of the festival on the corner of Southbank Boulevard and St Kilda Road, and Gong Garden, an interactive musical garden populated with hundreds of plants from the Burnley campus bringing together science and the arts.

Each event offers opportunities not only for the public, but also for staff and students.

The University has offered internship opportunities for two students from the Faculty of Arts and the VCA to provide them with exposure to a dynamic festival and to develop their skills is stage and arts and cultural events management.

“Everything we do comes back to teaching, research and engagement,” Adrian Collette said.

“We have a number of students undertaking work integrated learning and enrichment activities by volunteering at the festival,” he said.

For more information visit summersaltfestival.com.au.