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According to ancient Japanese legend, anyone with the patience to fold 1000 origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods.

What the legend fails to mention are the late nights and fast food it apparently takes to get the job done if you happen to be on a strict deadline – as was Vivid designer Isabella Bain.

Visitor numbers and tweets influence the brilliance of the 1000 Cranes installation.

Photo: Wolter Peeters

"We spent the last three or four weeks non-stop with a whole bunch of pizza and beer and a group of friends folding all the cranes," she says. "We really have lived the legend."

The cranes Bain and her friends – who have formed a collective called Ambient & Co – are made from recyclable plastic and lit from within. They are now suspended en masse in The Rocks forming a striking installation.

The 1000 cranes legend took hold of the popular imagination in Japan after a young Hiroshima victim began folding cranes in hospital. In one version of the story she reached 644 cranes before succumbing to leukaemia. Her classmates folded the remainder.

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"We thought that was such a beautiful story at a time where our doomsday clock is so close to midnight and with all the negativity in the news," says Bain. "We wanted to bring positivity and collaboration to Vivid."

The canopy of cranes lights up in response to the number of people gathered below and also responds to the number of positive posts on Twitter tagged #hope.

"It doesn't matter where you are – on-site or anywhere on the globe – you can have an impact on the installation," says Bain.

A gong also rings every time an aspirational Tweet is posted.

Bain and her team only saw the installation in its full glory earlier this week.

"We turned our lights on for the first time on Tuesday and it was a bit of a relief," she says. "A thousand cranes is not just something you can turn on at home or build in your backyard. It was almost tearful."

And already the work has developed something of a mind of its own as it interprets the data fed to it.

"There are a few things we've noticed that are kind of: 'OK, I don't know whether that looks like it's broken or if it looks like it's just doing something really interesting'," says Bain. "But that's the power of creativity and letting the installation run itself."

Nick Galvin

Nick Galvin is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald

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