To answer this question – icon or idol? – double click on the photo and see for yourself. Amidst the darkness and smoke, does the picture draw you in? Almost requiring you to enter the darkness alone and in quiet puzzlement. Or does it remind you of ‘yeah, I was there!’ – even if, already, details of the fiery deluge now all merge into an indistinct glow? In icons, a warmth draws you in; with idols, the glow comes out: hot, not just warm.
But wait, the photo happened from the ‘wrong side’ of the Bridge. The fireworks are normally reported and imaged from the Opera House viewpoint (all the way down to Sydney Heads), not the side from whence this photo happened (The Milson, at Milson’s Point). But this very difference leads us to see that the New Year in Sydney (and indeed any cites) is both idol and icon. Idols feed off the crowds. Mobs mesmerized, ignite the lure of idols! With fame, someone becomes the idol – but with city events like this, everyone shines under the canopy of sparkle – a moment when they can idolize themselves. Yet, there remains this ‘other side’ – the iconic stature of the event.
In the foreground, Lunar Park – a little bastion of an earlier time. It had burnt down some years ago, but then rebuilt in an old fashioned way. And here, you can see something iconic. Amidst the episodic, fickle flicker of flashlights and the bombast of exploding rockets, the steady lights of Lunar Park, point the eyes to what you can just barely see: the wafting smoke in the aftermath of the fireworks – drifting over the city, already dissolving memories. A new year starts free – for the last one has already been forgotten! Fortunately, the iconic quality of the event means not all is forgotten.