Why, oh why, do men have nipples?

4 06 2012

Why, oh why, do men have nipples? That was a question that was being thrown to the crowd at Esplanade Park on Saturday evening. Pondering over this were five men who looked nothing like the beach boys they claimed to be – not that anyone in the crowd cared about this or about the perennial question that was left unanswered.

Joseph Wong pondering over why men have nipples.

The five – Budak Pantai, or “Beach Boys” translated from Malay, really needs no introduction – having been on the scene for some 18 years. And while much of what Budak Pantai does on stage isn’t taken too seriously, the group possesses the talent of any accomplished a cappella group. It was in a cappella that the group excels in – although of late a guitar accompanies most of what they do on stage. The guitar as is explained officially is an addition as the guitarist, Danny Lai, “did not know what to do with his hands on stage”.

A guitar was introduced to the a cappella group because the would be guitarist, Danny Lai, ‘did not know what to do with his hands on stage’.

The group’s repertoire is a great testament to the singing prowess of the group – they take on a range of familiar favourites that range from Il Divo’s Unbreak My Heart to popular Hokkien tunes – all done of course with a twist. The songs – or parodies of them (if I may call them that) are peppered with lyrics that never fail to draw a chuckle – some with local references as well in local languages or dialects. One, Plain White T’s Hey There Delilah even comes with an East London accent courtesy of Michael Loh – who more often than not doubles up as the group’s spokesperson.

Michael Loh (a projection on shipping containers which formed the back of the stage).

It was with Mike that I had a very brief chat with after a performance in November last year at the Republic Polytechnic. That was probably something I should really have prepared a blog post on – but as I was in between trips and rather short of time, and since a friend had already put up an excellent blog post on that performance, I never really got down to doing it.

The group on stage.

The group traces its origins to Rollin’ Good Times – a television talent contest in the 1990s that sought the best imitations of popular artistes (those with more than a few grey hairs like me might remember it). That also provides a clue as to the origins of the name Budak Pantai – the group aspired to be a local version of the Beach Boys, winning a Beach Boys sound-alike segment of the television contest in 1994.

Ho Kah Keh who hits the low notes.

Gordon Ng who hits the hard to reach notes and entertains with his facial expressions as much as with his voice and sound effects.

When not pondering over a redundant part of the male anatomy, the group’s members masquerade paper-pushers – there even is a banker and a lawyer among the five. I did wonder how, with full-time jobs, the five managed to stay together all these years – I was given to understand the blame for that rested with the plates of chicken rice that brings them together and over which their creative juices flow.

Another projection of Michael Loh …

Another of guitarist Danny Lai.

Talented and creative they no doubt are. What, however, does set them apart must be the sense of humour, which provides a very unique blend of humour and guitar accompanied a cappella that never fails to entertain. Entertain they did – at times to rapturous laughter, a performance at the end of which had the crowd who were most comfortably sprawled on the lawn below the stage on mats laid out for the purpose, baying for an encore. The five were pleased to oblige, observing that as the festival village’s closing act – they had the time to do so. That brought the curtains down on the wonderful array of live performances in the festival village which over the two weeks had drawn many singing and swaying members of the public to the festival village. The attempt to bring the festival to the public must certainly be seen as one that has been extremely successful and if this is what will be seen at the next edition of the Singapore Arts Festival, it would be one that we will certainly want look forward to.

Time to say goodbye …

The crowd that had gathered were enthralled throughout the hour long performance.


A slideshow that contains a few more photograph’s of the evening’s performance:

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The Weasley Twins are in town!

2 06 2012

The highly anticipated Harry Potter exhibition will open at the ArtScience Museum today. In town for the opening are James and Oliver Phelps, identical twin actors who played the Weasley twins in the Harry Potter series of films, props from which will be on display at the exhibition. More soon to follow …

The identical twin pair of James and Oliver Phelps who played the Weasley twins in the Harry Potter films are in town for the opening of Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the ArtScience Museum.





Dances with urns

31 05 2012

With the two week long Singapore Arts Festival drawing to a close on 2 June 2012, there still are a host of interesting happenings in and around the Festival Village to catch. One installation which I found rather intriguing – after watching a full dress rehearsal, is one that will take place at the Open Lawn (just next to the Lim Bo Seng Memorial) on just two evenings at 8pm (tonight 31 May and tomorrow 1 June). The installation, Dream Country – a lost monologue, involves some 41 women – the six collaborators behind it and 35 women of age 17 to 58 years, interacting with 35 clay urns. The performance is inspired by Dream Country, a monologue written by Malaysian playwright Leow Puay Tin. In this piece, the monologue is lost, living on in a dance which sees a depiction of birth, life and death during which interaction involves not only the urns, but also some elements such as water and earth – leaving the rest very much to imagination of the audience. More information is available at the festival’s page on the installation DREAM COUNTRY — a lost monologue.

Dream Country – a lost monologue involves scenes depicting birth, life and death as 41 women dance with 35 urns.

Elements such as water and earth are very much a part of the installation.

More scenes from Dream Country – a lost monologue:

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About The Singapore Arts Festival

The Singapore Arts Festival began in 1977 as a national showcase celebrating the local arts of Singapore’s diverse communities. Over the last three decades, the Festival organised by the National Arts Council, has played a symbiotic and catalytic role in the development of the artistic and cultural life of Singapore. It has influenced the work of artists and generated a growing public demand for the arts, spawning new capital platforms, events and movements that help underpin the lively cultural scene in Singapore.

The Festival saw its turning point in 2010 as it embarked on a new phase of development under the leadership of Low Kee Hong. Key changes and initiatives include turning this international arts platform into a Creation and People’s Festival with a vital year-long participation programme, continuing to sustain the Festival’s engagement with the public beyond individual shows staged during the Festival period. The commune events and activities are tailored for four groups: new audiences — people who may not have encountered the arts; arts lovers — people who buy tickets to performances; arts makers — artists and teachers who inspire their students through the arts; and arts volunteers — people who have the heart to make a difference.

The Singapore Arts Festival has now become an international showcase of ideas, art and discourse with a distinctive Asian flavour, known for its bold and innovative discussions between vernacular and contemporary art.

Singapore Arts Festival 2012: Our Lost Poems

The 2012 Festival will be held from 18 May – 2 June 2012. This edition of the Festival completes the trilogy of themes set out two editions ago – Between You and Me (2010), I Want to Remember (2011), Our Lost Poems (2012). Over these 16 days, the city comes alive with an infusion of performances at the Festival’s hub – the Festival Village @ Esplanade Park and other key venues. There is something for everyone this year, from ages 1 to 100.






Strings to a forgotten time

29 05 2012

Out and about an entire day and feeling irritable from that as well as from being drenched in the perspiration, I am glad that I resisted the urge to head home, have a shower and a what seemed to me like a much-needed lie-in. I headed instead down to a place I was familiar from times forgotten, to partake in the pure delight of being transported by four men armed with bows and strings, to a world not so far away from those forgotten times.

A changed view of a once familiar place.

When I got to that once familiar place, Esplanade Park, rendered somewhat unrecognisable by the obstructed view of what had once been the sea that now is a body of fresh water and the temporary structures set up for its use as a festival village for the Singapore Arts Festival, a huge crowd had already taken up temporary residence on mats provided by event organisers on a lawn by a stage. The crowd had gathered in anticipation of what was to follow – a free evening performance by the four men who form a string quartet – Singapore’s highly acclaimed T’ang Quartet, for what was titled “A Musical Snapshot of Nostalgia”.

The main stage at the festival village in front of which crowds had gathered seated on mats.

A close-up of a violinist.

I and I am sure the crowd were not disappointed by what was to follow. In the glow of the gorgeous warm lighting and on a stage set against a backdrop of shipping containers, the casually dressed but accomplished quartet played out a musical treat inspired by the once popular folk melodies, old favourites and themes of forgotten popular local television shows – in line with the festival’s theme of “Our Lost Poems”, that had the audience captivated throughout. It was easy to become immersed in the strains of much of what was familiar, and I quickly found myself back in that time I had forgotten – one piece that I found myself singing to was Burung Kakatua which also brought a tear to my eye – it was a song that my late maternal grandmother to whom I was very close to had taught me. The surroundings had once again become that Esplanade of old, fanned once again by a cool evening breeze – a breeze not out of the stillness of the air that now fills the park, but of the light and delightful interpretation of tunes, arranged by Pang Kok Jun from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, many of which I have for long not heard – certainly an enjoyable evening and one that was well spent.

The T’ang Quartet against a backdrop of shipping containers – on the Main Stage at the Festival Village.

The audience, young and old, was captivated by the strains of the once familiar melodies.

Portraits of the members of the T’ang Quartet

Ng Yu-Ying, 1st Violin.

Ang Chek Meng, 2nd Violin.

Lionel Tan, on viola.

Leslie Tan on cello.

Loved the effect of the projection of the performance on the shipping containers.

The Singapore Arts Festival is on up until 2 June 2012. Besides the ticketed events, the Festival Village at Esplanade Park also offers free fun and entertainment for the whole family including performances like that of the T’ang Quartet at the Main Stage and also lots of kids activities at the Kids Arts Village. One free performance at the Main Stage that I highly recommend is one at 10 pm on 2 June 2012 that will certainly have you in stitches – that of the a capella five-some (sort of) Budak Pantai – I had the opportunity of watching them perform last year and they were brilliant! For more information do visit http://www.singaporeartsfest.com/.


About The Singapore Arts Festival

The Singapore Arts Festival began in 1977 as a national showcase celebrating the local arts of Singapore’s diverse communities. Over the last three decades, the Festival organised by the National Arts Council, has played a symbiotic and catalytic role in the development of the artistic and cultural life of Singapore. It has influenced the work of artists and generated a growing public demand for the arts, spawning new capital platforms, events and movements that help underpin the lively cultural scene in Singapore.

The Festival saw its turning point in 2010 as it embarked on a new phase of development under the leadership of Low Kee Hong. Key changes and initiatives include turning this international arts platform into a Creation and People’s Festival with a vital year-long participation programme, continuing to sustain the Festival’s engagement with the public beyond individual shows staged during the Festival period. The commune events and activities are tailored for four groups: new audiences — people who may not have encountered the arts; arts lovers — people who buy tickets to performances; arts makers — artists and teachers who inspire their students through the arts; and arts volunteers — people who have the heart to make a difference.

The Singapore Arts Festival has now become an international showcase of ideas, art and discourse with a distinctive Asian flavour, known for its bold and innovative discussions between vernacular and contemporary art.

Singapore Arts Festival 2012: Our Lost Poems

The 2012 Festival will be held from 18 May – 2 June 2012. This edition of the Festival completes the trilogy of themes set out two editions ago – Between You and Me (2010), I Want to Remember (2011), Our Lost Poems (2012). Over these 16 days, the city comes alive with an infusion of performances at the Festival’s hub – the Festival Village @ Esplanade Park and other key venues. There is something for everyone this year, from ages 1 to 100.






Chairs and nudity at the Traffic Police HQ

28 05 2012

For many in my generation, mention the Traffic Police HQ, and Maxwell Road immediately comes to mind. That was of course a long time ago and traffic cops that have long been be associated with what must certainly be a wonderful work of architecture along Maxwell Road have since moved away. The building which housed the HQ now sees a second life as the Red Dot Design Museum and on Wednesday evening, it played host to an event that featured 35 chairs – specially designed Louis Arm Chairs. And where, one may wonder, does nudity come into all this? We didn’t have to look far – that came in the form of Linda Black, who co-hosted the event with her husband Oli Pettigrew. It wasn’t that she hosted the event unclothed (she did remark that the guests of the event would probably have been disappointed to see she had her clothes on) – she appeared in the buff to portray the Venus of Botticelli’s famous masterpiece for one of a series of publicity posters for the cause for which the event was held. The posters also included those of several well-known celebrities, including US actor and DJ Bobby Tonelli, who also appeared in the nude to portray Rodin’s The Thinker.

Linda Black’s depiction of Venus.

And Bobby Tonelli as The Thinker.

The nudity was all in good taste of course – and all for a good cause – CHAIRITY Arts & Design Against Cancer. A collaborative platform for artists and designers to express their interpretation of Cancer onto a piece of classical European furniture – the Louis Arm Chair, CHAIRITY, which is supported by the Singapore Cancer Society, aims to raise funds through its artworks to support cancer patients as well as to increase the level of awareness of cancer. This, along with the artistic effort in the form of the chairs created, were unveiled at the event, which was graced by several distinguished guests including former President of Singapore, S R Nathan. Also at the event was CHAIRITY’s founder, Imis Iskandar, who made an emotional speech during which he revealed that it was his father’s fight against cancer that motivated him to start the cause together with his partner in BACK REST, Gary Ng.

Former President S R Nathan was at the event to lend his support to the launch of CHAIRITY.

In his speech, Imis paid a glowing tribute to his father, who despite being very ill, was able to make the event. Imis also explained how he came to the idea of using a chair as an art piece for the cause. Having been very much connected with furniture making – Imis’ father was a furniture maker and BACK REST is very much involved in the trade, he thought of using something that he well knew that – a commonly used item of furniture that most don’t take much notice of – unless of course the item has very distinguishing characteristics. Imis felt that the chair, as such, was very representative of cancer as a disease. Cancer which although is all around us – a number one killer in many parts of the world and can affect anyone and bring pain and suffering to them as well as their families, is a disease most of us do not realise is there until it strikes someone close to us – very much like how the chair is seen by Imis.

One of the eye-catching chairs – “Heart Mosaic” by Wong Renzhi of St. Andrew’s School.

Some 30 Singaporean based artists were involved in the effort in which they transformed a Louis Arm Chair to provide their interpretation of the disease. The artists behind includes a number of personalities including Linda Black herself who designed a chair in a homage to her grandmother, Margaret Pearl Vogt Webster, who passed away from cancer some 20 years back. There were several eye-catching designs – including one by Tan Haur called “This is not a chair” which had some hearts that replaced stars on the back rest that resembled the Singapore flag – stars inspired by the stars that were stuck on to reward good work in school which the artist felt could be turned into love and care in education.

Linda Black with S R Nathan next to the chair she designed in homage to her grandmother who was a cancer victim.

Tan Haur’s “This is not a chair”.

There was also time at the event for two surprises to be sprung – one came in the form of surrealist Rosihan painting a chair live to open the event, the other came in the form of the beautiful voice of an 11 year-old naturalised Singaporean, Miguel Antonio, who has been described as having the “Voice of an Angel”.

Rosihan painting a chair live …

“Voice of an angel” – 11 year old Miguel Antonio.

Miguel Antonio with former President, S R Nathan.

More information for CHAIRITY can be found at the CHAIRITY Facebook Page and also at the blog site of photographer Maryann Koh of The Studio Loft, who did the shoot for the publicity material and whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the event. The 35 chairs, many of which have already received pledges for, will be back at the Red Dot Design Museum for a Public Exhibition on Friday 1 June 2012 (one day only) at the Market of Artists and Designers (MAAD). The exhibition will be open from 5 pm to midnight.

The artists posing for a photograph with S R Nathan and the good people behind CHARITY.

Didier Ng’s “I miss grandma’.





Hundreds of screaming girls and a show of hands

25 05 2012

I was at Clarke Quay last evening to catch some wonderful independent acts perform live on stage at the first day of the 3-day Music Matters Live event. It being K-Pop Night Out, hundreds of screaming girls holding placards and iPads coloured the scene around the Main Stage. Among the performances that I caught were indie-folk duo Minor Soul from Hong Kong – who are produced by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, Natasha Duarte from Australia who was performing for the first time outside of Australia, and K-Pop’s Rhythm King and seven member BTOB.

Indie-folk duo Minor Soul who are produced by the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart.

Natasha Duarte from Australia.

Guitarist for Natasha Duarte.

Rhythmking.

Rhythmking Fans.

BTOB.

There were hundreds of screaming girls!


There was a show of hands in more ways than one!


PRESS RELEASE

Music Matters 2012: A Diverse Live Experience

The show will be kick-started on the main stage by a hip hop showcase from Korea on May 24. Drunken Tiger, a pioneer of the genre, will be performing alongside the ‘Queen of Soul’ t Yoon Mi Rae. They will be accompanied by heavyweights such as the hot idol group M.I.B, rapper and hip hop prince J’Kyun and DJ Clazzi of the experimental genre-defying project Clazziquai. One half of dynamic hip hop duo 2wins, Rhythmking will also be appearing as well as BTOB, an energetic vocal group with seven members and a massive fanbase.

Aussie BBQ will be held at Beer Market on May 25 and will feature some of Australia’s best talents. Epic stadium rockers Pandorum, rising alternative rock band This Sanctuary and the classically trained singer-songwriter Kate Miller Heidke. Canada will also have a strong presence in Music Matters Live. Following last year’s arrival of Simple Plan on Singapore’s shores, Canadian Blast will be held at Cuba Libre featuring soulful singer and acoustic performer Peter Katz, alien surf rockers Hill & The Sky Heroes, rapper Manafest and USS, one of Canada’s top indie rock acts.

Singapore will also be well represented. Inch Chua, who has performed at massive festivals such as SXSW, will be featured. The local line-up also includes The Great Spy Experiment, who quite recently rocked the stage at Singapore Day in New York City and The Auditory Effect, a band whose music is a dynamic fusion of high energy, style and groovy beats.

All performances will be held at the main stage at Clarke Quay, Beer Market, China One, Crazy Elephant, Cuba Libre, Forbidden City by Indochine, Shuffle and The Arena. Gigs start at 7:30pm and end at 2am. For updates on the gig schedule, visit http://www.facebook.com/MusicMattersLive.

This music festival aims to showcase to Singapore and the region many of today’s greatest breakthrough bands, irrespective of national and cultural differences. Access to most acts will be free, encouraging attendees to open their minds to a journey of musical discovery. No one will be left out as all the line-up for the main stage will be broadcast live over Youtube for the first time, making the audience limitless.

Aside from the themed nights on the main stage, expect standout performances from festival favourite Midnight Youth (NZ), indie-folk twosome Minor Soul (HK) who are produced by the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, post-punk act Aftermiles (Indonesia) and many, many more.

Music Matters Live is just one segment of All That Matters, a convention and platform for discussion on music, technology and media. The programme is filled with talks by esteemed members of these industries including Bob Ezrin, the legendary producer who has worked with the likes of Pink Floyd on their landmark album ‘The Wall’ and KISS. Further information and the full schedule can be found at WWW.ALLTHATMATTERS.ASIA.






The Gardens by the Bay in the merry month of May

24 05 2012

Thanks to the Gardens by the Bay, with several other photographers and bloggers, I had a chance to wander around the Bay South Garden of the Gardens by the Bay this May. Much of the Bay South Garden is still very much “work-in-progress” – a lot of planting and sprucing-up is still going on, but it was nice to see that most of the structures that add a sensational touch to the garden is up and turned up beautifully in photographs. One of the highlights of the Bay South Garden that we were able to see this time around which wasn’t accessible during the Cloud Forest media preview in early April was the aerial walkway at the Supertree Grove. The 128 metre walkway suspended some 22 metres above the ground, since named as the OCBC Skyway, offers a spectacular view of the gardens. OCBC which sponsors the OCBC Skyway also sponsors the “OCBC Light and Sound Show” – a light and sound show at the Supertree Grove. This will debut as one of the opening activities for Gardens by the Bay from 2 July 2012. The Bay South Gardens will open to the public from 29 June 2012.

The Cloud Forest and Supertree Grove as seen on a rain washed morning.

The Flower Dome seen from the OCBC Skyway.

The Cloud Forest.

Another view from the OCBC Skyway.

The Supertree Grove at dusk with the OCBC Skyway.

The view across the Dragonfly Lake at night.

Another view across the Dragonfly Lake.

A night time view of the Supertree Grove.

The Cloud Forest seen at night.

The OCBC Skyway.

The Bay South garden of the Gardens by the Bay will open to the public from 29 June 2012.





The next face of Asia

15 05 2012

The six-week long street fashion festival, Fashion Steps Out at Orchard 2012 (FSO 2012), which began with the first time a 600 metre stretch of Orchard Road was closed and used as a fashion runway, saw another first – the first time a cinema hall at Shaw Theatres Lido was transformed into a fashion venue with a catwalk built over the cinema seating for the closing party on 27 April 2012. The closing party marked the end of the festival and also saw the Next Face of Asia 2012 selected from 12 finalists representing six Asian countries – China, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. The Next Face of Asia which aims to discover Asian models and be a launch platform for Asian faces internationally, involved a regional search to identify potential talent from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, HK, Taiwan, Indonesia, China and India. The deserving winner, who walked away with $10,000 worth of prizes and who will be the Face of FSO 2013, was 25 year old Indonesian model Paula Verhoeven, the tallest model in the finals at 1.82 metres in height.

A cinema hall at Shaw Theatres Lido was turned into a fashion runway for the first time for the closing of Fashion Steps Out at Orchard 2012.

The closing party also saw the finals of the Next Face of Asia 2012 which picked a winner from 12 finalists from 6 Asian countries.

More Photographs from the Next Face of Asia 2012

The deserving winner, 1.82 metre tall Paula Verhoeven from Indonesia, who was the tallest model in the finals.


About FSO

Fashion Steps Out @ Orchard (formerly known as Fashion Season @ Orchard) aims to bring fashion to the man on the street. From 16 Mar – 29 Apr 2012, the Orchard Road shopping belt of nearly 800,000 sq. m of retail space will be heralding the Spring / Summer fashion season with exciting events and promotions that will spice up everyday fashion and thrill shoppers. FSO 2011 brought 5.2 million visitors, drew $3.9 million in receipts (an 18% year on year growth in sales***), and generated $2.035 million worth of publicity. FSO 2012 aspires to attract even more visitors and higher spend.

*** According to MasterCard’s tracking in USD






Taking off with Scootitude!

8 05 2012

It had seemed for a brief moment that I had found myself on a flight of fancy – not one of my own, but that of a group of men and women dressed in yellow tops that I had found myself in the company of. One in the group, a tall gentleman, spoke of how what they were giving me (and a group of others) an introduction to had come out of a flash against a somewhat surreal backdrop of a combination of hues that could possibly only have been painted by the hand of an artist. Much as it might have seemed otherwise, it was in fact something that had become real – the tall gentleman being Campbell Wilson, the CEO of Scoot,Singapore’s newest airline. And it was in the capsule of the Singapore Flyer that a group of bloggers and I had been holed in which provided not just a great vantage to what was a remarkable sunset over Marina Bay, but also an ideal location to hear about Scoot and what the airline is all about.

A flight of fancy into the surreal colours of an unusual sunset?

Before Campbell got down to giving us the lowdown on Scoot, there was some fun to be had … girls pitted against boys in a game that exposed my inability to properly draw much more than a few basic shapes – there being no escape from it with nowhere I could possibly hide in the confines of the capsule. After a reward of a boxful of snacks (after all a prominent blogger did refer to the airline as “So Cheap-O Overseas Travel”), it was down to the quick presentation by Campbell during which we heard that it had all begun in May 2011 with a flash – a flash drive that is ….

Inside the Scoot capsule on the Flyer.

It was refreshing to hear what Scoot, which aims to fill a gap in the low cost carrier market for flights that go beyond a 4 hour range, was all about. The fun that we had at the start, and what was to follow later, certainly provided a feel of what the good people behind the new airline wanted to be seen as – quirky, fun, informal, engaging and inclusive – something that must appeal to youthful crowd they hope to reach out to as well as the young at heart, a category I should at least qualify for.

It was an evening of fun … but what was Kevin attempting to depict???

One thing interesting I was to learn about Scoot was its out-of-the-ordinary recruitment process – designed to select candidates for its cabin crew that show what the airline terms as “Scootitude” to project that fun and quirky image it wants to project. I was to have the opportunity to see this first-hand and must say it was a process that had the candidates and staff involved wearing lots of smiles and one that I quite enjoyed being at.

The fun-to-be-at cabin crew selection process involves both individual and group participation from the candidates and is intended to identify those who show “Scootitude”.

Staff seemed to be having fun too at the recruitment drive.

Evaluators assessing candidates as they participate in a group exercise.

Another thing that did come out in the presentation on the flyer besides hearing about the four destinations announced thus far: Sydney (to which the Inaugural Flight on 4 June 2012 is to), Gold Coast, Tianjin and Bangkok, is the series of promotional events in the lead up to its inaugural flight, which included a “Bid the Price Down” campaign in China, a “Name Our Babies” contest, as well as a Spot a Scoot Cab contest in Singapore which is currently ongoing in which a pair of tickets can be won every two weeks during an eight week period which ends on 31 May 2012. More details can be found on the FlyScoot Facebook Page.

The evening’s fun ended with great food at the Singapore Food Trail under the flyer ….

The evening’s fun did have to end – but not without great food 1960s Singapore style, at the Singapore Food Trail under the Flyer – the promise of which might have been the motivation for me in taking up Scoot’s invitation to fly with them, and in great company … I am certainly glad I did take the invitation up – not only did I learn more about Scoot and what the airline aims to do, I was able to also meet some great people to be with – people that I certainly wouldn’t mind flying with.

… and in great company … CEO Campbell Wilson is seen looking away from the camera …

Head of Cabin Services Ng Ju Li with two of members of her cabin services team.





A Bangsawan revival by the river

16 04 2012

The Singapore River has played a vital role in the settlement and early development of Singapore, long-serving as a gateway for the arrival of influences which has given Singapore its rich cultural diversity. While that role has since been minimised by the shift in the means by which people arrive to our shores as well as with the cutting-off of the river from the sea, it is nice to see that it still, as a venue, has a role to play in keeping the traditions that it previously played a role in bringing in, alive with an initiative ‘Regenerating Communities at Empress Place’. The initiative, conceived by The Old Parliament House Limited which runs The Arts House at Empress Place saw a three-instalment programme curated by Jeremiah Choy that featured performances of fading performing art-forms which were once common on our streets. This included a Chinese puppet theatre show and in its third and last instalment, a very rare Bangsawan performance by Singapore’s last exclusive Bangsawan troupe, Sri Anggerik Bangsawan at the ACM Green.

The third instalment of the first series of the 'Regenerating Communities at Empress Place' initiative saw a rare performance of Bangsawan or Malay Opera.

The first series of 'Regenerating Communities at Empress Place' was curated by Jeremiah Choy who is seen introducing Noor Azhar Mohamed of the Sri Anggerik Bangsawan troupe.

A Bangsawan performer before the performance.

Bangsawan or Malay Opera, is an art form that has its origins in commercial 19th Century Parsi theatre, arriving first in Penang at the end of the 19th Century via travelling troupes coming from Bombay. The name ‘Bangsawan’ is a combination of two words, ‘bangsa’ which means ‘race’ or ‘a group of people’ in Malay, and ‘wan’ which is a reference to ‘stature’. Being performed purely for entertainment, Bangsawan was always an evolving form that adapted very much to the taste of the audiences it attracted and at the height of its popularity in the 1920s and 1930s, drew audiences which included those from the other races across society. The typical Bangsawan performance would include both dialogue and song and dance segments which incorporates influences across several cultures and involves very elaborate stage sets, make-up and costumes, making the performances a very colourful and musical experience.

Bangsawan involves very elaborate stage sets as well as make-up and costumes - and requires quite a fair bit of preparation prior to each performance.

A performer having her make-up applied.

The clasped hands of a performer waiting for her make-up to be done.

The performance over two evenings over the weekend was of an excerpt from Dang Anum, the retelling of a touching tale which revolves around the unfortunate Dang Anum, the daughter of Sang Rajuna Tapa – a Minister in the court of Sultan Iskandar Shah (who ruled Singapore from 1399 to 1402). The performance was a special one for the troupe, Sri Anggerik Bangsawan, which traces its origins to 1986, when its founder, the late Haji Hamid Ahmad, formed it with the aim of preserving what was already then a vanishing art form. The performance of the excerpt represents a comeback for the troupe which took a two-year break due to Pak Haji Hamid’s(as he is affectionately known) illness and eventual passing last year. The performance, though brief, required much love and effort to put together, was one that the troupe dedicated as a tribute to their late founder.

Performers in full costume.

On the evidence of the thoroughly enjoyable performance, it would be certainly be a wonderful experience to be able to see a full performance of Dang Anum, which the troupe has previously performed twice – once in the early 2000s and a second time as part of a larger performance in 2007. The troupe which does not have any immediate plans to stage a full performance, does hope to be in a position to put what must be an ambitious attempt at a large scale in one to two years. It one we are told that which will be very elaborate, featuring a Javanese epic tale that was written by Pak Haji Hamid, and one on which the troupe certainly would require support of various bodies and groups supporting the performing arts, as well as sponsors on.

The opening of the performance.

Scenes from the performance.

More scenes from the performance.

The audience was captivated by the performance.





Launch of NHB’s Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces

13 04 2012

Void decks became a common feature of blocks of flats in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates back in the 1970s. Offering shade and shelter, they quite naturally found use as common spaces for social interaction as well as for community events. Over time, the use of void decks have evolved beyond this and uses of the common spaces have extended to children’s toy libraries, bird singing corners, civil defence shelters, retail spaces, playgrounds and community art galleries.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim opening 'Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces' exhibition at Blk 2, Saint George's Road on 12 April 2012. Looking on is James Seah.

To discover more of the history and evolution of void decks and their use, do visit National Heritage Board’s (NHB) exhibition “Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces”, which was opened by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, and Advisor for Kolam Ayer, on 12 April 2012. The exhibition is the third in a series of travelling exhibitions focusing on community heritage and highlights the history and development of void decks in the Housing Development Board (HDB) heartlands, their common features and uses, and their role in providing shelter, building community, and promoting racial integration. The exhibition will also feature learning games related to the exhibition for which NHB has partnered Handson Learning, an educational consultancy specialising in museum and heritage programmes. The games will be conducted by students from schools in the proximity of the exhibition and for the preview during the opening, involved National Education Captains from Bendemeer Secondary School.

Handons Learning with which NHB has partnered is training students from neighbourhood schools to conduct learning games related to the exhibition to help raise awareness of the vital role that void decks play .

Representatives from Handons Learning together with National Education Captains from Bendemeer Secondary School were on hand to demonstrate the Snakes and Ladder game.

Besides the exhibition which is currently at Blk 2 Saint George’s Road Singapore 320002 until the end of April, there are also a group of bloggers (including myself) who have written personal stories and experiences and shared photographs to the exhibition.
The exhibition moves to Marine Parade in May 2012 and after to other void decks around Singapore.

Children from the neighbourhood having a go at the game.

Supporting blog entries for Our Void Decks, Our Shared Spaces are:





The sun rises on a Sembawang tradition

5 04 2012

The Panguni Uthiram festival is a Hindu festival that is celebrated annually during the full moon of the Tamil month of Panguni. In Singapore, this is celebrated at the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple, now located at Yishun Industrial Park A. The celebration of the festival in the area traces its history back to 1967 when the temple was located off Canberra Road which was then part of the Royal Navy Naval Base in Sembawang. More information can be found on a previous post, A lesser known Hindu festival with a Kavadi procession: Panguni Uthiram, and also on the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple’s website.


Photographs taken at Sunrise today of this year’s Panguni Uthiram






An ascent into the clouds

4 04 2012

Taking an elevator up to the top of a new world that will soon be added to the Marina Bay area in Singapore, a visitor is transported high up into a cloud forest 2000 metres above sea-level. It is a lost world that the doors of the elevator will open to, a world fed by a cool and moist climate in which carnivorous plants, ferns and mosses thrive with the accompaniment of sounds of a cascading waterfall. It was a world that I got a peek at yesterday at a preview of the Cloud Forest which is set within the Bay South Garden one of the three section Gardens by the Bay which will open to the public from 29 June 2012. The elevator that takes one up, doesn’t of course travel that 2000 metres, climbing six floors or 35 metres up a man-made ‘mountain’ right on top of which the Lost World is found. The ‘mountain’, Cloud Mountain, that greets the visitor to the Cloud Forest, the taller of the two cooled conservatories in the Bay South Garden (the other being the Flower Dome), is one that will come the opening of the garden, be covered in lush vegetation and feature some 130,000 plants found in high altitude tropical zones such as on Mount Kinabalu and the mountain regions of tropical Africa and South America.

The Cloud Forest, one of two cooled conservatories at the soon-to-be opened Gardens by the Bay takes one on an ascent up into the clouds. Members of the media were given a preview of the conservatory in which the cool-moist climate of the Tropical Montane regions 1000 to 3500 metres above sea level is replicated.

The Bay South Garden, just across from Marina Bay Sands, will open to the public on 29 June 2012.

The Cloud Forest has some 2577 glass panels spread over the 12000 square metre of its surface.

The 58 metre high glass panelled structure which is the Cloud Forest is one within which the cool-moist climate of the Tropical Montane regions between 1000 and 3500 metres above sea level is replicated and besides the Lost World right on top of the man-made ‘mountain’ inside the amazing structure which features some 2577 glass panels of 690 varying shapes and sizes laid over its surface ares of 12000 square metres, is where one discovers eight other unique zones. The nine zones will offer a variety of experiences that aims to provide the visitor with a sense of the biodiversity and ecology of the so-called cloud forests and the various threats the environments they exist in now face. The eight other zones are the Cloud Walk, The Cavern, Waterfall View, Crystal Mountain, Tree Top Walk, Earth Check, +5 Degrees and Secret Garden.

An artist's impression of the inside of the Cloud Forest which features a 35 metre 'Cloud Mountain' with a 30 metre waterfall (image: Gardens by the Bay).

An external view of the Cloud Forest.

The inside of the Cloud Forest today - very much work that is still in progress.

The Lost World will feature carnivorous plants including pitcher-plants.

Ferns already thriving in the Lost World.

The Lost World, as well as the rest of the Cloud Forest, is still work-in-progress as it is being readied for the official launch of the Bay South Garden which will take place on 28 June 2012 (the garden will be opened to the public from 29 June 2012).

The waterfall flows down from the Lost World.

While the Cloud Forest is very much still ‘work-in-progress’ with it’s primary structure complete with finishing touches being put to it and with it in a ‘planting stage’, it wasn’t hard to visualise what it would be like when it opens in June. Besides the spray of the 30 metre high waterfall on yesterday’s visitors, I could also see that some of the ferns, flowering plants and carnivorous plants of the Lost World seemed to already be thriving. We also got to have a feel of the Cloud Walk – which takes visitors down a cantilevered walkway from the Lost World to the world down below it. Walking down the open metal gratings of the walkway, it wasn’t hard to imagine the view it will offer not just of the epiphytic plants that will clad the side of the ‘mountain’ when completed, but also the sensory experience of the descent down the mountain and the spectacular views of the inside and outside of the Cloud Forest.

The 30 metre high waterfall down the 'mountain' in the Cloud Forest.

The Cloud Walk which takes one on a descent down a cantilevered walkway on the outside of the 'mountain'.

The view downwards from the Cloud Walk.

Another view of the Cloud Walk (and the Tree Top Walk far below).

The descent down the Cloud Walk leads one towards The Cavern inside the ‘mountain’ – an education zone where visitors are able to learn more about the cloud forests, as well as to the back of the waterfall – the Waterfall View that prompts the visitor to consider the importance of fresh water and how cloud forests are able to capture water droplets from mist and fog. It is also on the inside that one finds the Crystal Mountain – where one is surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites typical of caves which are a common feature of mountains. Here the visitor will find a showcase on the formation of the continents, the age of the earth and the role that fossils play in helping us understand our planet’s past.

A view of the waterfall from inside the 'mountain'.

The Cavern will feature stalactites and stalagmites.

Planks for scaffolding inside The Cavern.

Another walkway that the Cloud Forest will feature is the Tree Top Walk which will take visitors, as the name suggests, over a tree canopy. Besides this, visitors will also find a special lab which provides a view of the state of the earth today and the threats to the earth from climate change and habitat loss – Earth Check. +5 Degrees will provide an experience of the effects of temperature increase due to climate change and Secret Garden at the foot of the mountain is a gentle ravine walk through a narrow gorge that provides visitors close to once abundant but now threatened plants.

The glass panels of the Cloud Forest being cleaned.

Besides the cool climate of the cloud forests which will be maintained in the conservatory between 23 and 25 degrees C, we got a feel of what the garden will be like. Again, that is very much work-in-progress. Along with the Heritage Gardens, the Dragonfly Bridge and Dragonfly Lake which was opened to the public during the 20th World Orchid Conference World Orchid Show in November last year, we also were taken through the World of Plants. This along with the Flower Dome, a sneak peek of which was given in November, and the Supertrees of the Golden Garden, Silver Garden and the Supertree Grove and Kingfisher Lake will be ready when the 54 hectare Bay South Garden opens in June. The Supertrees of the Supertree Grove will feature a cable suspended Aerial Walkway which we got to see for the first time yesterday.

A view of the Dragonfly Lake today from the Dragonfly Bridge.

The view of the clusters of 'Supertrees' around the Dragonfly Lake.

In conjunction with the opening (the official launch will be on 28 June 2012 and the garden opened to the public from 29 June 2012), events will be held in the garden over a period spanning two weekends from 29 June to 8 July 2012. The events will include live concerts by Grammy Award winner Jason Mraz and Corrine May, and other activities that include an outdoor movie under the stars.

The suspended Aerial Walkway on the Supertrees of the Supertree Grove.

The Bay South Garden will be opened from 5 am to 2 am daily and the cooled conservatories and aerial walkway in the Supertree Grove will open from 9 am to 9 pm daily. Admission to the Bay South Garden will be free, while admission charges will apply for the cooled conservatories and aerial walkway. Rates for local residents for entry to a single conservatory are S$12 (adults), S$8 (senior citizens above 60 years old / children 3-12 years old). Entry to two conservatories will cost local residents S$20 (adults), S$15 (senior citizens above 60 years old), S$12 (children 3-12 years old) and non-residents S$28 (adults), S$15 (children 3-12 years old). Discounts will be available for holders of PAssion Card, NTUC Plus! Card, SAFRA Card and Home Team NS Card. For entry to the Aerial Walkway, rates will be S$5 for adults and S$3 for children. Annual passes will also be available and in conjunction with the Singapore Garden Festival from 7 to 15 July 2012, a joint promotion will be held which offers discounted entry to the conservatories and for the Festival.


Information on Jason Mraz’s and Corrine May’s Live Concerts

Ticket prices (excluding SISTIC charges) for Jason Mraz’s 29 June 2012 Concert are S$98 (purchased before event day) or S$112 (purchased at the door on event day itself) and Corrine May’s 30 June 2012 Concert are S$38 (purchased before event day) / S$45 (purchased at the door on event day itself). Ticket sales start on 20 April 2012 at 9am (online) and 10am (at SISTIC booths).






A final dance with the lights

1 04 2012

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After what has been a wonderful three weeks of fun in glow of the light art installations at Marina Bay, here for Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival – i Light Marina Bay 2012, it is time to say goodbye. With it being the last day of the event today, there is still that chance for those who have not yet been down to bathe in the glow of lights as well as the many I am sure who have not had their fill of the festival to have a last dance with the light art installations – many of which do certainly make one want to dance with.

A child is seen dancing in the light of Parmendies I. Have a last dance this evening with the installations at i Light Marina Bay 2012..

There is little doubt about the buzz the festival has generated. The numbers thronging the waterfront promenade around Marina Bay where most of the 31 installations have been sited, even during the weekdays has been clear to see. The festival attracted both visitors from Singapore, as well as many from further afield, including the “overly caffeinated, full time travel photographer & Monkey to blame for a BlameTheMonkey.com“, Elia Locardi who hails from the Florida Keys. I had an opportunity to meet and and also speak at length with Elia, who had linked-up with a newly formed group of landscape photography enthusiasts Landscape Hunters Asia to conduct (cup of coffee in hand of course) a well attended photo-walk and a Q&A session for the group. I will be posting on the interview I did with Elia little later.

A stick-figure from Groupe LAPS installation, Key Frames, seems to use the Singapore Flyer as a running wheel.

It is probably the large-scale installations and those that permit some level of interaction that have perhaps gone down the best with the many visitors to the festival. One can’t help but be enthralled by the 3D sound and light project on the ArtScience Museum Garden of Light – best viewed from the look-out platforms of the Helix, and be drawn to the flicker and the music of the 30 stick figures of Key Frames that seem to dance at the seating gallery of the Float @ Marina Bay. It is probably however what has been described as the “Rainbow Merlion” that is the crowd’s favourite – an installation that certainly encourages interaction – one that nobody, young or old can resist wanting to have a hand in. This installation entitled Light of The Merlion is one that a visitor can influence the colours that are projected on the much loved 40 year old icon of the new Singapore through a touch-screen LCD panel which sees large numbers queuing up each evening.

Light of the Merlion.

Besides the installations mentioned, each of the other 28 installations are ones that offer differing experiences and each definitely is worth a visit – each as I have mentioned an observer as saying, offering “small delights”. There are about four clusters of installations around the bay, the largest cluster of which is under and around the seating gallery of the Float which includes Key Frames, Immersion and enLIGHTenment on the outside. Under the gallery, are several installations – my favourites of which are Parmendies I and White Rain.

Immersion by the Float.

Dancing in the light and reflection of Edwin Tan's enLIGHTenment on a wet evening.

Along the waterfront promenade of Marina Bay Sands is another cluster which includes Garden of Light and MEGAPOV – interesting a vertical line of light which in panning one’s head or a camera, one is able to see subliminal images. Further down at the Marina Bay City Gallery is the red beams of The Gate. Close to the Marina Bay City Gallery are the installations of the Promontory as well as where the festival village is located. The festival village is where one can find many of the fringe activities – a few of which, including Light Painting by LUMIX are still available on the last evening and are definitely not to be missed. If you do feel like there is that urge to head down to have that final dance with the lights this evening at one of the four clusters or at the Light of The Merlion at Merlion Park, do also make it a point to pass by Esplanade Park. That might hold a reward of seeing one or two who are not dancing with the lights, but talking to the few forgotten trees there. That is this one little delight that somewhat off the beaten path, is one that awaits discovery – Angela Chong’s Tree Stories which compels the visitor to interact with the trees. The installations will on this last evening, as with the other evenings, be turned on from 7.30 to 11 pm. More information on the activities and the event can be found on the i Light Marina Bay 2012 Activity Chart or at the event’s website: www.ilightmarinabay.sg.

Subliminal messages given by a vertical strip of light.

Another subliminal image.

No Emergency Exit is offered by The Gate.

Beams of light draw one into a portal that cannot be passed through - portraying Enlightenment as an unattainable goal.

After Light - an installation that involves 26 shipping containers at the Promontory which also incorporates two installations by Singapore based art college students.


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


Related posts:

Media Preview and an Overview of some of the installations

Opening Ceremony and the Light of The Merlion

Light Painting by LUMIX and other Fringe Activities

The View from Sands SkyPark and the Garden of Light

Lighting Up for Sustainability


About i Light Marina Bay 2012:

i Light Marina Bay 2012, the second edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival, will be held from 9 March to 1 April 2012. Themed “Light Meets Asia”, i Light Marina Bay 2012 features innovative and environmentally sustainable light art installations by 31 multi-disciplinary artists, with a strong focus on works from Asia. The festival is organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in collaboration with Smart Light Singapore. i Light Marina Bay will be on nightly from 7.30pm to 11.00pm from 9 March to 1 April 2012. For more information, please visit www.ilightmarinabay.sg. In conjunction with the festival, LUMIX is running a photography competition for which participants who can capture the magical atmosphere created by the light art installations around Marina Bay stand to win attractive prizes. More information can be found at the festival website.





75 feet above the harbour

30 03 2012

From a vantage point 75 feet (about 23 metres) over Singapore’s former harbour, officers with the Harbour Division of the Preventive Branch of the Department of Customs and Excise (which later became Singapore Customs), stood watch over the Inner Roads of the harbour for more than three decades. The vantage point, a panoramic lookout tower that we still today, was part of the Customs Harbour Branch Building built over an L-shaped pier along the waterfront at the end of Collyer Quay. The building and pier, built at a cost of S$1.8 million, was completed in October 1969. The complex housed the 300 strong force of the then Harbour Division, as well as provided berths and maintenance facilities (which included a slipway) for some 35 launches and speedboats of the Division when it first opened. The building also provided cargo examination facilities and its construction allowed the Division to move from its somewhat makeshift premises in a godown in Telok Ayer Basin.

What is today a posh dining destination, Customs House, with its very distinct 75 foot lookout tower, was formerly the Customs Harbour Branch Building. It was completed in October 1969 and housed the Harbour Division of the Customs Preventive Branch.

The Customs Harbour Branch Building in 2006 (source: URA site on Conservation Matters).

Collyer Quay in July 1974 seen beyond the Detached Mole, a breakwater that sheltered the Inner Roads from the opened Outer Roads. The Customs Harbour Branch Building and its distinct 75 foot tower is seen on the extreme left of the photograph (Photo courtesy of Peter Chan).

While 75 feet in the context of what now surrounds the former Customs complex, the tower allowed customs officers to keep a round-the-clock watch over the harbour for small boats attempting to sneak dutiable goods into Singapore. The octagonal shaped and fully air-conditioned watch tower which is supported by a cylindrical base provided a panoramic view which extended beyond the Inner Roads to the mouth of the Singapore River, the Geylang River and Tanjong Rhu. Officers spotting a suspicious boat could then alert their colleagues manning the speedboats which were on standby by the pier who would then head out to intercept the suspicious boat.

A side elevation of the former Customs Harbour Branch Building with its very distinct lookout tower (source: URA site on Conservation Matters).

At the bottom of the 75 feet climb up a spiral staircase to the lookout tower - reminiscent of climbs up several lighthouses I've visited.

In between heavy panting, I managed to appreciate the view halfway up.

At the end of the 75 feet climb - a view of the lookout tower's ceiling.

Looking down at the cause of my heavy breathing.

Use for the building and the pier in its intended role ended with the construction of the Marina Barrage which cut what were the Inner Roads of the old harbour off from the sea and the building then under the Maritime and Port Authority’s charge was passed over to the Singapore Land Authority in 2006. Customs House was given conservation status in 2007 and was reopened as a dining destination under the management of Fullerton Heritage, which also manages the former Clifford Pier and the Fullerton Hotel. The tower itself is however disused and remains inaccessible to the general public.

At the top of the lookout tower.

The lookout tower no longer commands a view of a harbour littered with bumboats, twakows and tongkangs, but of the new world that is Marina Bay.

Show me the money! An interpretation perhaps of the new view - as seen in the reflection of a window of the lookout tower offered by one of the installations for i Light Marina Bay 2012 - Teddy Lo's MEGAPOV.

Seeing double - BIBI's Bibigloo and a reflection of it as viewed from the lookout tower.





Lighting-up for sustainability

27 03 2012

Observation of Earth Hour
i Light Marina Bay 2012 Installations will be turned off for an hour at 8.30 pm on Saturday 31 March 2012 to observe Earth Hour.


Lighting and colouring up the gorgeously beautiful world that is Marina Bay over a three-week period, are thirty-one light art installations making their appearance at i Light Marina Bay 2012. The biennial festival is the second edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival. In bringing us the festival, the organisers also hope to send across a key message that advocates sustainability, particularly in the use of energy-efficient lighting technology for the future.

A close-up of Bibigloo by BIBI - one of 31 light art installations for i Light Marina Bay 2012 supplementing the sea of lights that the gorgeously beautiful Marina Bay is until 1 April 2010. Many of the installations feature the reuse or recycling of material - in this case Jerry Cans, to help send out the festival's key message of sustainability.

To send out the message of sustainability, criteria used in the selection of the 31 works out of 100 applications were the artists’ use of energy-efficient LED lights and the incorporation of sustainable, recycled / re-usable materials in their work. Some of the works do in fact feature the use of renewable or alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind energy or kinetic energy to provide the necessary power. The festival in promoting sustainability, has also enlisted the support of a number of the owners of buildings not just around the Marina Bay precinct, but also in other parts of Singapore to participate in the “Switch Off, Turn Up” campaign. The campaign will see some 42 buildings involved in a conscious effort to switch non-essential indoor/outdoor lighting and office equipment off whenever possible and turn up air-conditioning temperatures to 24 to 25° C during office hours. As with the festival, the campaign is in its second edition with the first edition featuring some 16 properties, which saw more than 41,000 kWh of electricity saved collectively. The buildings participating in the campaign include Marina Bay Sands, Marina Bay Financial Centre and The Fullerton Heritage in the Marina Bay area as well as Wisma Atria, New Tech Park and Tampines Concourse outside of the area.

Shinya Okuda's BioShell which visualises invisible but closely interconnected relationships between humans and nature.

The Sustainability Sponsor for the festival, The PowerSeraya Group, a Singapore based integrated energy company, is a strong advocate of energy conservation. The Group is a Merit Winner of the Singapore Environmental Achievement Award in 2011. The company hopes to highlight the importance of environmental awareness as well as energy conservation through their participation – part of a broader outreach programme that the company has embarked on to encourage power consumers to use energy and resources responsibly.

Receptacle by Marine Ky - a work that is supported by Philips.

A close-up of Receptacle.

Besides the participation of the organisers’, the building owners, and the main sponsors in promoting the message of sustainability, the festival also sees the strong support of companies behind the development of energy-efficient lighting solutions. One such company is Philips, which hopes to drive a revolution in the use of energy-efficient LED. As part of their participation in the festival, Philips has lent their support to powering a number of the light art installations which are The River, Coral Garden, Tree Stories, Sweet Home, enLIGHTenment, BioShell, 5QU1D, Receptacle, and Planting Shadows. The LED lighting solutions being used for the festival’s installations use as little as one-tenth of the power required by an incandescent bulb and last for up to 20 years of normal use.

Olivia d'Aboville's Coral Garden is one installation supported by Philips. The installation encourages people to interact with the light installation made from cocktail stirrers much like an actual coral reef attracts marine life to it.

Through its participation and support, Philips aims to also bring across a message that light has the ability to enhance life, beautify the urban landscape, and bring out the unique personality of each city. The company feels that driven by the LED lighting revolution, sustainable lighting solutions now available offer limitless possibilities of what light can do for urban spaces and rethink the way cities are lighted up, allowing urban planners and architects great leeway in exercising their creativity. The company also hopes to see government regulation aimed at reducing energy consumption and protecting the environment and the phasing out of incandescent bulbs through a switch to LED lights.

The Philips picnic under a Breeze Shelter which featured some of their gorgeous LED light illuminated home products. Philips arranged for several local artists to share on their installations.

It was during a picnic organised by Philips held under the cool comfort of the Breeze Shelters at the Promontory @ Marina Bay I attended that I learnt more of Philips aims in supporting artists for i Light Marina Bay 2012. Philips was also kind enough to arrange for an opportunity to meet with a few of the local artists they are supporting. On hand to speak about their motivations in the creation of their respective installations was Ryf Zaini (5QU1D); the very enlightened Edwin Tan (enLIGHTenment); and Joshua Yang, Fiona Koh and Justin Loke of Vertical Submarine (Planting Shadows).

Edwin Tan (L) in the glow of enLIGHTenment.

It was interesting to hear what the artists had to say about their creations. First to speak was the Vertical Submarine team whose work, Planting Shadows is an adaptation from the one created for an exhibition at the Singapore Botanic Gardens in 2009. The installation features a sense provoking field of grey sunflowers. The inspiration for the work is a poem by local writer Chien Swee-Teng. The poem tells a tale of a sunflower plantation owner’s pact with an imp who lived in an empty bottle of sunflower oil. In exchange for success in his trade, the farmer becomes blind to the colour of his trade. In presenting sunflowers in the grey of their shadows, the team tries not just to recreate the story, but also aims to direct the viewers’ attention to the form of the sunflower.

In the colour of their shadows, attention is drawn to the form of the sunflowers. Planting Shadows by local group Vertical Submarine draws inspiration from a poem by local writer Chien Swee-Teng in which a sunflower plantation owner’s becomes blind to the colour of his trade in exchange for success in a pact with an imp.

Another sense provoking work is that of Ryf Zaini’s 5QUID. An engineering graduate of Temasek Polytechnic, the artist’s interest saw him completing a diploma in interactive media at the LASALLE College of the Arts where he graduated with first class honours in media art. An engineering graduate from Temasek Polytechnic, Ryf Zaini’s interest in the arts led him to LASALLE College of the Arts, where he completed a diploma in interactive media and graduated with first class honours in media arts. Combining both fields, Ryf Zaini creates hybrids of technologically informed art like his installation 5QU1D which represents a squid that emerges from the sea and takes on a hybrid form to merge itself with the surroundings. 5QU1D is embedded with blinking lights and uses recycled and used electronic parts, and LED lighting systems.

Ryf Zaini's 5QU1D is another sense provoking piece. It represents a squid which takes a hybrid form to blend with rapidly changing surroundings - a reference to the rapid changes in the modernising world and the effects they have on the natural environment.

The other artist who made an appearance was Edwin Tan, the founder of local design studio Bravo Company. His installation, enLIGHTenment involves a video wall of multi-coloured light tubes. In an idle state, an animated screen saver is displayed and when activated through an interactive console facing the light display, the installation starts “thinking”, finding an answer to a question asked through the console. After a pause of a few seconds, the display literally enlightens the audience with a YES or NO answer. Interestingly, Edwin mentioned that how he arrived at the work and its name was that he had only five days to work on his proposal. Seeking inspiration – it crossed his mind that he required some “enlightenment” which also contained the word “light” which is how he hit on the idea. The installation is cheekily placed at the Helix (bridge) that takes one to Marina Bay Sands and its casino and is aimed perhaps at those who contemplating a visit to the casino.

Yes, No, and sometimes Maybe?

Should the answer to that question be a negative one, one could instead have a last look at the installations before the festival ends on 1 April 2012. Besides the 31 installations, there are also lots of fringe activities being held during the last weekend. One activity certainly to catch is the Nescafe Passion Movie Night on Saturday 31 March 2012 during which there would be a free screening of KungFu Panda 2 at the Lawn from 8 to 10 pm. Another interesting event on the same day is the 8DAYS’ Pets and the City event at the Promontory between 4 and 8 pm during which pet owners can glam their pets up and take them for a walk. There will also be a mass Light Catcher creation workshop that will be held from 5 pm in conjunction with the movie screening, as well as Junk Jam which features percussion performances using household junk as instruments on both Saturday and Sunday from 9 pm to 10 pm along the Waterfront Promenade. Visitors to the area can also turn their eyes upward to watch the Singapore Sky Dancers lighting up the sky with lighted kites on Saturday from 7 to 11 pm. More information on the activities can be found on the i Light Marina Bay 2012 Activity Chart or at the event’s website: www.ilightmarinabay.sg.


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


Related posts:

Media Preview and an Overview of some of the installations

Opening Ceremony and the Light of The Merlion

Light Painting by LUMIX and other Fringe Activities

The View from Sands SkyPark and the Garden of Light


About i Light Marina Bay 2012:

i Light Marina Bay 2012, the second edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival, will be held from 9 March to 1 April 2012. Themed “Light Meets Asia”, i Light Marina Bay 2012 features innovative and environmentally sustainable light art installations by 31 multi-disciplinary artists, with a strong focus on works from Asia. The festival is organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in collaboration with Smart Light Singapore. i Light Marina Bay will be on nightly from 7.30pm to 11.00pm from 9 March to 1 April 2012. For more information, please visit www.ilightmarinabay.sg. In conjunction with the festival, LUMIX is running a photography competition for which participants who can capture the magical atmosphere created by the light art installations around Marina Bay stand to win attractive prizes. More information can be found at the festival website.


URA Press Release on Earth Hour 2012

Singapore, 28 March 2012 – i Light Marina Bay 2012, the sophomore edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival, is going the extra mile in its commitment to the sustainability message with the Festival’s participation in this year’s Earth Hour.

Come 31 March 2012, all 31 featured artworks will be switched off for an hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm. The public are invited to participate in a Mass Light Catcher Creation workshop at The Lawn commencing from 6.00pm, followed by a commemorative light-up. There will also be a free movie screening at the NESCAFE® PAssion Movie Night later that evening.

Besides participating in Earth Hour, the “Switch Off, Turn Up” campaign – an energy efficiency effort initiated by the festival to encourage properties in and around Marina Bay to switch off non-essential lights and turn up air-conditioning temperatures – is projected to achieve energy savings of at least 200,000 kWh (kilowatt hours), triple the energy saved during the inaugural edition in 2010. This equates to saving 100 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is enough to generate electricity for 762 4-room HDB flats for the same period.

The “Switch Off, Turn Up” campaign, with the support of Sustainability Sponsor PowerSeraya, has to date received the commitment of 47 properties to drive energy efficiency, which is close to a three-fold increase from the 16 buildings that took part two years ago. Participating partners include Marina Bay Sands, Prime Sponsor of the festival, as well as other developments around Marina Bay and beyond.

For more information about the festival, visit www.marina-bay.sg/ilightmarinabay.

About Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA)

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is Singapore’s national land use planning and conservation agency. URA’s mission is “to make Singapore a great city to live, work and play in”. We strive to create a vibrant and sustainable city of distinction by planning and facilitating Singapore’s physical development in partnership with the community. As the main land sales agent for the state, our multifaceted engagement strategy includes the sale of state land to attract and channel private capital investment to develop sites for meeting our land use needs. As the place manager for Marina Bay, we promote exciting activities within Marina Bay in collaboration with other government agencies and private stakeholders. To create an exciting cityscape, the URA also actively promotes architecture and urban design excellence. For more information, please visit us at www.ura.gov.sg.

About Smart Light Singapore

Smart Light Singapore (SLS) was established in 2010 as a not-for-profit entity to develop urban lighting festivals that would set new international standards for energy efficiency and provide family-friendly, outdoor celebrations by illuminating public spaces through art sculptures and other smart light activities.

Through these events and activities, SLS aims to increase awareness in the reduction of energy usage, engage public and professional participation in best practices in lighting design, promote dark city skies and improve on energy-efficient lighting performances.






Delights around Marina Bay

22 03 2012

One of the wonderful things I was able to do as an official blogger for i Light Marina Bay 2012, was to spend part of an evening right on top of the world. That world that I write of is Marina Bay – a showpiece of modern Singapore, which when viewed 57 floors up from the Sands SkyPark, is a world that is certain to take one’s breath away. The view around Marina Bay from SkyPark is stunning to say the least and has to be the highlight of a visit to the roof of Marina Bay Sands – a view that for a little more than 3 weeks is being enhanced by some of the more visible of the 31 light art installations scattered around the body of water for what is Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival.

The view of the showpiece of the new Singapore - Marina Bay, 57 floors up from the Sands SkyPark.

Being 57 floors up does provide a very different experience of the installations around Marina Bay that can been clearly seen. The Light of The Merlion that lies across the bay is certainly one that is to be noticed, as is the red-orange glow of the illuminated plastic igloo that is Bibigloo located at the Promontory @ Marina Bay. Surveying the scene around the incomplete circle of light that is Immersion at the far end of the Float @ Marina Bay would also be seen. It is however, with one’s feet firmly on the ground, that offers one the best multi-sensory experience of most of the installations. This is especially so for the festival’s largest projection – the light and sound show that is the Garden of Light.

Garden of Light - an animated projection on three fingers of the ArtScience Museum using 3D digital mapping techniques by Hexogon Solution.

The Garden of Light is an animated projection on three of the fingers of the ArtScience Museum. The projection, created using 3D digital mapping technology, is on the evidence of the interest created, one of the more popular installations. Best viewed (and photographed) from the viewing platforms on the Helix (bridge), it has been one that never fails to catch my attention, despite having watched the show several times from both the Helix and also below the ArtScience Museum. The show is the work of Singapore based Hexogon Solution and was conceived by its founder, Adrian Goh. Having moved into the field of video mapping projections in 2009, Hexogon has been involved in several large-scale projections that includes one on a commercial airliner and also one on the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. The eight-minute show uses a combination of light and sound effects intended to send out a message of environmental sustainability that highlights the beauty of the natural world. The light and sound show is one I have to say is one of the most spectacular and one that greatly enhances the visual experience of the ArtScience Museum. It would be nice to see the installation being there on a permanent basis to allow future visitors to the area, and those like me who never tire of it to have an opportunity to take-in what has to be said celebrates the ArtScience Museum’s unique architecture – something that perhaps Marina Bay Sands may want to consider.

Another 'scene' from the Garden of Light.

The installation along with the Light of The Merlion has to be one of the most photographed installations at i Light Marina Bay 2012.

Martin Bevz and Kathryn Clifton's Immersion as seen from Sands SkyPark.

BIBI's Bibigloo seen from Sands SkyPark.

OCUBO's Light of The Merlion seen from above.

The location of the Garden of Light, is close enough to a cluster of 8 installations in and around the seating gallery of the Float @ Marina Bay to include a visit to the eight installations – one that has gone down very well is Key Frames from Groupe LAPS. The are also several under the seating gallery. A few of these I have already made a mention of such as Aleksandra Stratimirovic’s well received and rather successful attempt at making an ugly space beautiful, Sweet Home, Dev Harlan’s Parmenides I, and Andrew Daly and Katherine Fife’s Crystallised. Besides those already mentioned, there are two other installations under the seating gallery, one is Light Collective’s Urban Makyoh and the other – one that absolutely delighted me, is Takahiro Matsuo’s White Rain

Key Frames.

And what made me think Parmenides I was an installation one couldn't interact with?

Urban Makyoh involves light reflections projected from mirrored stencils.

White Rain – takes a little bit of effort in finding – an effort that was certainly worth it. The description I received describes it is an installation of white light which focuses on the sense of infinity produced by the behaviour and the beauty of light in which participants experience the poetry and beauty of light which falls like rain around them. What makes the installation a joy to take-in is that the rain of light that seems to fall as natural rain does, falls as one moves through it, intensifying and easing off depending on how one moves through it. It is one that I enjoyed observing especially standing away from the installation. As I stood and stared in the silence and the darkness, it seemed that I could almost hear the sound of the falling rain.

Takahiro Matsuo's White Rain.

There are just two weekends left before the festival ends on 1 April 2012 to take in each of the 31 installations. 31 “small delights” as one I met would have it. It is a festival that has certainly delighted me greatly, and one which I will continue visiting for the small delights that the interaction with each of the installations does bring. More information on the installations and on the festival and fringe activities can be found at www.ilightmarinabay.sg.


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


Related posts:

Media Preview and an Overview of some of the installations

Opening Ceremony and the Light of The Merlion

Light Painting by LUMIX and other Fringe Activities

Lighting up for Sustainability and Philips Supported Installations


About i Light Marina Bay 2012:

i Light Marina Bay 2012, the second edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival, will be held from 9 March to 1 April 2012. Themed “Light Meets Asia”, i Light Marina Bay 2012 features innovative and environmentally sustainable light art installations by 31 multi-disciplinary artists, with a strong focus on works from Asia. The festival is organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in collaboration with Smart Light Singapore. i Light Marina Bay will be on nightly from 7.30pm to 11.00pm from 9 March to 1 April 2012. For more information, please visit www.ilightmarinabay.sg. In conjunction with the festival, LUMIX is running a photography competition for which participants who can capture the magical atmosphere created by the light art installations around Marina Bay stand to win attractive prizes. More information can be found at the festival website.





Love is very much in the air at i Light Marina Bay 2012

19 03 2012

Love is literally very much in the air around Marina Bay. Visitors to the i Light Marina Bay 2012’s Night Carnival on the Waterfront Promenade just by the Promontory @ Marina Bay would have chanced upon many creating light messages and sketches next to the activity marquee – painted in the air. The activity is one of the more popular ones at the Night Carnival which involves “light painting” – moving hand-held lights through the air to spell words or sketch symbols which is captured using a long enough exposure setting on a camera. Subjects being “light painted” range from expressions of love and smiley faces to birthday greetings and on the evidence of what I observed – expressions of love seem to be the most frequently chosen subject.

LOVE is very much in the air at i Light Marina Bay 2012! Free Light Painting by LUMIX allows participants to paint light messages and sketches which are captured by a camera and emailed to participants.

The activity, Light Painting by LUMIX, is one of several festival fringe activities and events that the weekend crowd can participate in around Marina Bay – images will be sent by email to participants. Visitors to the festival can also catch LED light performers along the Waterfront Promenade, free movie screenings, a Night Carnival at the Promontory, as well as participate in various workshops that are suitable for both the young and the old.

Activity guide for i Light Marina Bay 2012 (click to enlarge).

Performers that roam the Waterfront Promenade include LED Twirlers who colour the night with performances best captured by a camera on a long exposure. In addition to the LED Twirlers, there are also LED Stilt Walkers, junk percussion jammers, story-telling sessions and synchronous lighted kite flying displays to catch on the two more weekends left to do so!

A 30 second exposure of LED Twirlers in action at the Promontory @ Marina Bay over the weekend.

More long exposures of LED Twirlers.

The cluster of marquees by the Promontory where the free light painting activity by LUMIX is held – the location of the festival’s Night Carnival, is also where free coffee by Nescafe is available (given out on a first-come-first-served basis). Two workshops which are held in the area would appeal especially to the kids. One, the Light Catcher Creation Workshop, involves transforming commonly used materials into simple to make, yet gorgeous light catchers. This workshop which is held in the comfortable environment of a Breeze Shelter, takes approximately 45 minutes to complete and costs $6 per participant. The second workshop, “Switch-It” Painting Workshop and Competition, involves the painting of light switches in which one’s creativity can be rewarded – participants are asked to paint the switches with a sustainability message which can be entered into a competition in which the top 3 designs stand to win fabulous prizes (entries should be submitted by 27 March 2012). Do allow for 30 minutes to complete the switch painting which costs $5 per participant. The workshops are held on Saturdays and Sundays from 7 to 9 pm.

The night carnival during the weekends feature activity marquees at which participants can sign-up for free light painting by LUMIX and also the Light Catcher Creation Workshop and the "Switch-It" light switch Painting Workshop and Competition.

The workshops are conducted under the very comfortable Breeze Shelters along the Waterfront Promenade by the Promontory @ Marina Bay.

Materials used everyday go into the making of light catchers. Participate in a Light Catcher Creation Workshop - fun especially for the young, on Saturdays and Sundays from 7.30pm to 9 pm up until 1 April 2012.

Arranging the reflectors.

Finishing up ...

And voilà! A beautiful light catcher that can be easily re-created at home.

Another light catcher.

Besides light catchers, the public can also participate in other activities, including a "Switch-It" light switch painting workshop and competition. The competition offers attractive prizes - submissions should be made by 27 Mar 2012.

Some of the painted light switches on the competition wall.

During the festival, visitors are also able to get on free guided tours which take place on Fridays to Sundays at 7.30pm, 8.30pm, and 9.30pm. Registration is required and closes one day prior to the event on the festival’s website or 30 minutes prior to the specific tour at the festival’s information kiosk. Visitors will have two routes to choose from: Tour 1 starts at Event Square and Tour 2 starts at the Info Kiosk at the ArtScience Museum. For a full list of and a calendar of activities and events, do refer to the activity guide (click here).

More expressions of love ...

A smiley face ...


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


About i Light Marina Bay 2012:

i Light Marina Bay 2012, the second edition of Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival, will be held from 9 March to 1 April 2012. Themed “Light Meets Asia”, i Light Marina Bay 2012 features innovative and environmentally sustainable light art installations by 31 multi-disciplinary artists, with a strong focus on works from Asia. The festival is organised by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in collaboration with Smart Light Singapore. i Light Marina Bay will be on nightly from 7.30pm to 11.00pm from 9 March to 1 April 2012. For more information, please visit www.ilightmarinabay.sg. In conjunction with the festival, LUMIX is running a photography competition for which participants who can capture the magical atmosphere created by the light art installations around Marina Bay stand to win attractive prizes. More information can be found at the festival website.





When fashion and Fever closed Orchard Road

19 03 2012

One of the busiest stretches of Singapore’s Orchard Road was closed to vehicular traffic for a few hours last evening – all for the sake of fashion. The closure was to allow a 600 metre stretch from ION Orchard to the Mandarin Gallery to be used as a runway for the launch of Fashion Steps Out @ Orchard 2012 (FSO 2012), a six-week long shopping extravaganza that promotes fashion for everyday use. Dubbed “The Day when Fashion Stops Traffic”, the launch saw more than 170 models showing off creations from both international and local designers, including Vivienne Westwood, walking down road turned catwalk. This is the first time here that a busy road has been closed and used as a fashion runway – a brilliant idea that has definitely put the festival in the spotlight as well as allowing the festival to achieve its aim of reaching out to those on the street.

Fashion and Fever on Orchard Road. Alicia Pan entertained with a rendition of Fever right in the middle of the road.

A 600m stretch of Orchard Road was transformed into a fashion runway for the launch of Fashion Steps Out @ Orchard 2012.

One of the busiest stretches of Orchard Road from ION Orchard to Mandarin Gallery was closed to vehicular traffic on what would normally be a busy Saturday evening.

The a downpour prior to the opening and the inconvenience of the closure of the road to vehicular traffic did not at all deter those who came to watch the opening of the event – a large crowd had already lined the barricades well before the show started. The fashion show started with host Junita Simon strutting down the street accompanied by bare-chested male models which must have set the hearts of many in the crowd racing.

A large crowd gathered by the barricades set up well before the show started.

Host for the evening, Junita Simon, struts along the road runway to open the festival.

Over the hour-long show, a steady stream of models showing off collections from Vivienne Westwood, Dsquared2, Dip Drops, Rosebullet, iCB, J.Press, Robinsons, Marks & Spencer, Just Cavalli, Paul & Joe and Maria Grachvogel took to the road turned catwalk. The show also featured the appearance of singer/songwriter Alicia Pan – who seemed to have caught everyone there by surprise with a rendition of Fever on the road right in front of Paragon.

The fashion parade down Orchard Road begins with a collection from one of the participating international designers, Vivienne Westwood.

It wasn't just the models who attracted the attention of the cameras. A glamourously dressed photographer has a camera trained on her.

The opening of fashion festival was certainly one to remember and one that has set the tone for six weeks of activities and deals, including those from MasterCard – the Official Credit Card. More information on the festival which runs until 29 April 2012, can be found at the FSO 2012 website, or the FSO 2012 Facebook Page.

Some highlights of the Fashion Show:





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.