Rediscovering a 40 year old icon in a new sea of light

12 03 2012

I’ve often wandered down Collyer Quay in the evening in the days when the smell of the sea filled the air to catch the evening’s breeze. Glancing out to where the sky met the sea, the view in the dark was one of the flicker of the sea of lights of the numerous ships that lay at anchor, interrupted by the sweep of the beam that shone from Fullerton Light – the lighthouse that stood atop the Fullerton Building – then the General Post Office (GPO). It was always a fascinating sight for me – one that I was always thrilled to take-in. That was years ago and the world as I had known it then, has been transformed to the glow of lights that seemed to have grown out of the seeds planted by of the lights of the old harbour. The glow is the new world that is Marina Bay, a world that glitters with the gold that the old harbour it grew out of has given. The new glow – brighter than the old, makes Marina Bay a world that is one to marvel at and one that for three weeks will glow even brighter with the colours and the lights that i Light Marina Bay 2012 brings to it.

Coming of age - one of the older icons in the brand new Marina Bay will be bathed in a sea of light during i Light Marina Bay 2012.

The highly anticipated festival, the second edition of i Light Marina Bay, was opened officially by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minster and Minster for Finance and Minister for Manpower on Friday. At the ceremony at the Promontory @ Marina Bay, Mr Shanmugaratnam spoke of his pleasure to be at Marina Bay, which he said attracted a record 23 million visitors last year, “to be immersed in the energy of a new downtown which has been evolving” and observed that the many developments in the area have transformed the skyline, and “imbued our city with more excitement, colour and vibrancy”. Mr Shanmugaratnam in his speech, spoke of the ‘software’ that was required to make and sustain a place – such as the festival, which serves to bring the community together to enjoy the place, and also help in defining an identity for the Bay. The Deputy Prime Minister also observed that “do so through a display of beautiful light art installations is creative, fun and delightful”.

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam speaking at the opening ceremony of i Light Marina Bay 2012.

Launching the festival.

After Light, an installation involving projections on shipping containers, is seen behind the stage at the opening.

Street performers - who were present at the opening, will also feature in the area during the period of the festival (top photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

Fun and delightful the festival certainly has, in the first few days of the opening, proved to be. The festival’s 31 installations drew large crowds to the bay area over the weekend and judging from the number of visitors – one of the crowd favourites must be the Light of The Merlion – the brainchild of Nuno Maya and Carole Purnelle of OCUBO. OCUBO translates into “The Cube” in Portuguese, a name which reflects the geometric nature of the team’s projection work which for the work commissioned for i Light Marina Bay involves the projection of a combination of colours on the surface of the Merlion that are determined purely by members of the public through an interactive screen at the site. It is through this interactivity – a feature of all the group’s work, that the colours of the 40-year-old much-loved icon are changed through the evening – something which is designed to create a memorable experience with which the Merlion can be rediscovered with members of the public placed in the role of the creator. Based in Sintra, a delightful hilltop town in Portugal which boasts of the magical Sintra National Palace, OCUBO – an art and multimedia studio dedicated to light projects has presented light, multimedia and interactive art works in countries such as Japan, Australia, Singapore, Israel, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Poland and also conceived, produced and directs Portugal’s only light festival, the LUMINA Light Festival.

Light of The Merlion allows members of the public to play the role of the creator through an interactive panel which lets the public choose the colours to be projected on the much-loved 40-year-old icon (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

Nuno Maya (left), one half of OCUBO, at the opening ceremony (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

The many colours of the Light of The Merlion ... (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3)

After the opening ceremony, Mr Shanmugaratnam and guests were also able to take a tour of the bay by boat – a wonderful way of not just taking-in the sights around the bay, but also to have an excellent view of The Light of the Merlion and other installations that are around the bay’s waterfront including the festival’s largest projection Garden of Light, and the unmistakable red glow in the dark – BIBI’s Bibigloo at the Promontory @ Marina Bay. The eye-catching installation is an igloo made of 250 plastic jerry cans and is a replacement igloo intended to spread awareness of global warming and melting glaciers. BIBI has since 1992, attempted to explore man’s relationship to the environment, as well as the capacity to confront the contradictions with regard to waste production, through the use of everyday objects made from materials such as plastic using light to give life to his installations.

The eye-catching red glow in the dark - Bibigloo made out of 250 plastic jerry cans aims to raise awareness of rising temperatures and melting glaciers with a replacement plastic igloo (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

BIBI (right), the creator of Bibigloo.

The Festival Director, Ms Mary-Anne Kyriakou (centre) with artists present at the opening and Mr Mark Goh of URA.

The trial of light that I followed after the boat ride, somehow compelled me to take a walk towards the ArtScience Museum and onwards to the seating gallery at the Float @ Marina Bay, under which there are several other interesting installations. One – Sweet Home, which a mention of was made in my previous post, is an attempt by Swedish based Aleksandra Stratimirovic to make ugly places pretty. Ms Stratimirovic’s attempt to create a homely atmosphere through the use of lanterns must have been a very good one as the artists had used the installation to hold an opening night celebration late into the night.

Sweet Home an installation by Swedish based Aleksandra Stratimirovic under the seating gallery of the Float @ Marina Bay, aims to make an ugly place pretty - colourful forms of lanterns used in the installation are designed to spread warmth and homeliness in the urban environment (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

The artists certainly gave their thumbs-up! They found Sweet Home homely enough to spontaneously hold a party there on opening night (photo taken with LUMIX GF-3).

i Light Marina Bay 2012 is on until 1 April 2012 and several fringe activities and events will be held during the weekends – for a listing, do visit the events page on the i Light Marina Bay 2012 website. Information on Boat Taxis which provide an excellent way to see the installations on the waterfront also operate during the weekends, departing every 15 minutes between 7.30pm to 10.00pm from Fridays to Sundays from 10 March to 1 April and cost $4 per trip – more information is also available on the website’s events page.

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