The coming of light at Marina Bay

8 03 2012

Come Friday (9 March 2012), Marina Bay will be aglow, bathed in the colours of lights that will transform the area into a greater spectacle than it already is. Friday sees the opening of the sequel to the highly successful first edition of Asia’s only sustainable light art event of two years ago, i Light Marina Bay 2012, which on the evidence of a media preview of the event – Asia’s first and only sustainable Light Art Festival held last evening, is one that will be a feast for the senses.

i Light Marina Bay 2012 brings a spectacle of colour and light to the already spectacular Marina Bay.

Organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and with festival direction provided by Smart Light, this year’s edition will feature 22 works which will be by Asian based artists and designers. This is in line with the festival’s theme of “Light Meets Asia”. Beyond the theme, the festival aims to also promote sustainability and the use of energy-efficient technology – a message that the 31 works selected for the festival will carry. A total of 17 countries are represented in the 31 works, which were selected from some 100 submissions. 21 of the works are festival commissions.

Ms Mary-Anne Kyriakou, the Festival Director and Mr Mark Goh, Deputy Director of URA’s Place Management Department, speaking at the media preview.

As the area around which the 31 installations is large, the media preview, led by Festival Director Ms Mary-Anne Kyriakou, covered some of the highlights of the festival. One of the highlights Key Frames – a delightful installation set by the Float @ Marina Bay which has not just 30 light stick figures in various poses seemingly dancing in a routine choreographed to the music, it makes the viewer want to also dance with them. The installation is by French light artists, Groupe LAPS, which hails from the World’s largest light festival, Lyon’s Fête des Lumières.

Lighted stick figures are brought to life in a choreographed display by the Float @ Marina Bay. The light and sound show, Key Frames, is the work of Groupe LAPS from the World's largest light festival, the Fête des Lumières, Lyon.

A full exposure of Key Frames.

The highlights also included some of the more eye-catching installations – those that involved projections on two of the new icons of Singapore that are hard to miss. One is that of the interactive projection on the Merlion, Light of the Merlion – the work of Portuguese projection artists, OCUBO, which I did not have an opportunity yet to photograph. With Light of the Merlion, visitors are able to control light projections on the surface of the Merlion through an interactive touch-screen at Merlion Park. The other installation that certainly cannot be missed is the animated projection on three fingers of the ArtScience Museum, which uses 3D digital mapping technology – best viewed from The Helix (bridge), which is the work of local projection artists Hexogon Solution. The work, entitled Garden of Light, is also the largest projection at the festival. Hexogon Solution is one of eleven Singaporean artists whose works would be seen at the festival.

A close of the animated projection on the ArtScience Musuem.

Three interesting works can also be found in a rather unconventional space – under the seating gallery of seating gallery of The Float @ Marina Bay. The first, Sweet Home, is a site-specific work by Swedish based Serbian artist Aleksandra Stratimirovic is an adaptation of an original work created for Belgrade of Light 2011. The work aims to make ugly places pretty – the original work in Belgrade was an attempt to bring warmth and a homely atmosphere to one of the most polluted, busiest and exciting streets in Belgrade. For i Light Marina Bay 2012, Sweet Home, supported by Philips Lighting, attempts to use the colourful forms of the lanterns used in the installation to spread warmth and homeliness in the urban environment. The second installation here is American artist Dev Harlan’s Parmenides I. This is a large-scale geometric sculpture which incorporates a 360 degree projection mapped video which was previously exhibited at the New Museum’s New Ideas for the New City Festival in New York. The work features hypnotic 3D projections of swirling abstract patterns that gives a sense of movement, colour and form. The third, Crystallised by Andrew Daly and Katherine Fife from Australia, is one to look up to. The work which is an abstraction of the starry night sky, is an installation of five thousand hollowed-out and edge-lit acrylic rods which attempts to create a glowing internal landscape like a ceiling of a cave with glittering stalactites. It is under this that visitors walk and reflect on the impact of poorly considered lighting on city life.

Dev Harlan's Parmenides I.

The glowing internal landscape under which visitors walk and reflect on the impact of poorly considered lighting on city life - Crystallised by Andrew Daly and Katherine Fife.

Several installations are also located across the bay at the Promontory and the Waterfront Promenade. This includes After Light – which makes use of shipping containers the ends of which projections are made on which will examine the significance of light in New Zealand, from where the group behind the installation, StoryBox hails, and across cultures to Asia. The containers will also incorporate two site specific installations inside the containers that feature the work of budding talents from Singapore’s La Salle College of the Arts and School of the Arts. The area will also feature the glow of cocktail stirrers that have been transformed by French/Filipino artist Olivia d’Aboville into a glowing reef of coral-like sculptures that encourages visitors to interact with, much as a coral reef attracts life under the sea to do so, entitled Coral Garden. Other works in the area include Planting Shadows by Singapore’s Vertical Submarine; Thai sculptor Be Takerng Pattanopas’ Gap the Mind; the orange-red glow of France’s BIBI’s Bibigloo; Receptacle by Cambodia’s Marine Ky; Uh by the Propeller Group from Vietnam and one that is definitely should not be missed – Classification Pending by Craig Walsh from Australia which has 3D animated projections of artificial marine life forms on the waters of the bay.

Installation being carried out for After Light, by Story Box from New Zealand.

The coral garden at the Promontory - Coral Garden by French/Filipino artist Olivia d’Aboville.

Over the Marina Bay City Gallery, The Gate promises to be a huge attraction with its red beams of light. The work of Li Hui, which uses a powerful symbol of a portal which the red beams lead to – a passage perhaps to enlightenment, is one that we are not able to pass through. It suggests that enlightenment is a goal that cannot be attained.

The Festival Director Ms Mary-Anne Kyriakou speaks through the red beams of light of Li Hui's The Gate.

Li Hui, whose silhouette is seen at the right, speaking about his work.

An exit it is not. The Gate which can be seen to look at enlightenment as a goal that can never be achieved, is one that we are not able to go through.

Along the waterfront promenade leading to Marina Bay Sands and in front of Marina Bay Sands are a series of 9 other installations, which include two works by Singaporean artist we were introduced to – a squid like creature 5QU1D by Ryf Zaini and the work of Zulkifle Mahmod named Deck Journey. The series of 31 installations are spread around the bay and would definitely take much more than an evening to fully appreciate. One, the work of another Singaporean artist Angela Chong, Tree Stories, is found somewhat off the beaten track over at Esplanade Park. Tree Stories involves illuminated text on tree trunks which encourages interaction in the form of dialogue between the reader and the tree. Besides Tree Stories and Light on the Merlion, there are also several other installations that invite interaction – something that would appeal especially to the kids. These include several located in and around the seating gallery at The Float @ Marina Bay – White Rain by Japan’s Takahiro Matsuo, Urban Makyoh by UK based “lighting guerillas” Light Collective and Immersion by Martin Bevz and Kathryn Clifton from Australia. Several are also located over at the waterfront in front of Marina Bay Sands – The Light Dam by Taiwan’s Uno Lai, Illumination Disorders II by Singapore’s Tay Swee Siong and Bio Shell by Shinya Okuda of Japan. Installations can all be visited free of charge and will be on from 7.30pm to 11pm nightly.

Ryf Ziani and 5QU1D.

Zulkifle Mahmod's Deck Journey.

A series of activities and events has also been arranged during the festival which include free guided tours, workshops and also a photography competition in which participants will have a chance to win prizes worth up to $10,000 sponsored by LUMIX (who have also kindly lent LUMIX cameras for the Photo AmBayssadors and Official Bloggers to use during the period of the festival. More information can be found at the i Light Marina Bay 2012 website.


All photographs in this post have been taken with a LUMIX GF-3.

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