A timeless capsule

3 08 2012

Step outside ION Orchard, it would be hard not to notice a temporary structure that has made an appearance close to the corner where Orchard Road and Paterson Road meets. What will probably draw one to it would be the name ‘Martell Cordon Bleu’ – which celebrates its 100th anniversary with an exhibition which traces the history of the celebrated cognac to its origins in 1912 as well as featuring old shipping invoices and newspaper advertisements which provide a link to its presence in Singapore that dates back to the 1930s at the structure named The Timeless Capsule which will be opened to the public from 3 to 22 August 2012 . It isn’t however just the celebration of Martell Cordon Bleu’s centenary that makes it worthwhile to visit what has been touted as Singapore’s largest art gallery, but also another joy – one that celebrates the works of nine nominated ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu photographers – in an annual photography award organised by Martell Cordon Bleu for which the nine will vie for the top prize of $30,000.

Mr Paul-Robert Bouhier, Managing Director Pernod Ricard Singapore introducing The Timeless Capsule.

The photographers have been shortlisted by an expert panel that comprises Ms Kelley Cheng, Creative Director of The Press Room; Mr Russel Wong, celebrated Singapore photographer; Mr Milenko Prvacki, Senior Fellow at LaSalle College of the Arts; Mr Edmund Wee, managing and creative director of Epigram books, and ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2011 winner, Mr Sean Lee. They are Mr Albert Lim, Mr Edwin Koo, Mr Ernest Goh, Mr Jeremy San, Mr Roy Zhang, Mr Sam Kang Li, Mr Tristan Cai, Mr Wesley Loh and Mr Yian Huang. Their works are being exhibited in non print form – through the use of a multimedia format. In addition to the cash prize, the winner of ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu will also receive the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu trophy, a trip to Cognac, France and an opportunity to publish a book of his photographs. The two runners-up will each be honoured with the Discernment Award and cash prize of $8,000. In addition to this, a Eternal Discovery prize worth $1000 has also been introduced this year for the centenary, which will be awarded to the photographer who has obtained the most support through public voting. Votes can be cast online at www.icon-martellcordonbleu.com or at the ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu exhibition in The Timeless Capsule.

Shadows of guests at the opening of The Timeless Capsule each with a glass of Martell Cordon Bleu in hand.

I did not have the time to view all the exhibits by ones that caught my eye immediately the most were the works of Edwin Koo and Yian Huang both of which I found to be extremely evocative. Edwin who has been using photography to tell stories since 2002 had previously worked in the local press before leaving for Nepal in 2008 where pursue his interest to document human displacement and political turmoil. His series, Dreaming of Phayul, Paradise Lost and We Would Be Heroes, features marginalised groups during his time based in Kathmandu, Nepal. In 2011, his works on the Swat Valley was exhibited in the Angkor Photo Festival. His works on the Tibetan exiles were also shown in Photo Quai, in Paris in 2011.

Refugees wait for tea at Sheik Yasin camp, Mardan, Pakistan by Edwin Koo (image provided by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu).

Edwin Koo (image provided by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu).

Yian Huang on the other hand had a background in management consultancy before obtaining his Masters degrees from Columbia in International Affairs and Journalism. He covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while in the Middle East and has been exhibited at Galerie Steph at Helutrans in Singapore, the Palais du Louvre in Paris, the Singapore Art Museum, and in galleries in Russia, Italy and the US. He has also been published in the Economist, Newsweek, the Peak, and Sports Illustrated; and worked for the Newark Star Ledger based in New York City, and as an intern at the Magnum Photo Agency in Paris.

Work of Yian Huang (image provided by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu).

Yian Huang (image provided by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu).

An interesting display in The Timeless Capsule is a specially crafted, one-off piece of the iconic Martell Cordon Bleu cognac bottle by the renowned House of Boucheron. The unique bottle – The Ultimate Jewel which captures the houses’ passion for transforming the finest and rarest of raw materials into either exquisite blends or beautiful, timeless jewellery. The Ultimate Jewel will make a few stops on its international circuit before it is to be auctioned in China at the end of the year.

The Ultimate Jewel (image provided by Martell Cordon Bleu).

The centenary celebrations also sees Martell Cordon Bleu embarking on a charity drive. This would be to raise funds for the beneficiaries of Community Chest. The Martell Cordon Bleu Centenary Charity Drive aims to raise a minimum of $128,800. For the drive 100 exclusive Martell Cordon Bleu Anniversary Gift Sets consisting of a Limited Edition Centenary Bottle, Standard Edition Centenary Bottle autographed by cellar master, Benoit Fil, a Limited Edition photo print and photography book by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2011 Winner, Sean Lee, will be given in appreciation to contributions of a minimum of $1,288 each with all proceeds going to Community Chest.

The light show during the opening of The Timeless Capsule.

Several fringe activities will take place in The Timeless Capsule during the period, including a photography talk, An Eternal Discovery Revealed, on 6 August by the nine nominated photographers; a cognac and chocolate pairing session called Cognac & Chocolate: A Timeless Taste on 8 August (chocolate desserts prepared by the Singapore National Pastry Team will be paired with Martell Cordon Bleu for the public to sample the timeless taste of the cognac at the session). A photography book by ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu 2011 winner, Sean Lee, will also be officially launched on 16 August. All fringe activities are free to the public but registration is required as places are limited. The Timeless Capsule is open everyday from 3 to 22 August between 10am and 10pm. For more information about The Timeless Capsule, please visit www.icon-martellcordonbleu.com.

Claressa Monteiro performing at the opening of The Timeless Capsule.


About ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu – The Exhibition

3 Aug – 22 Aug, 10am – 10pm

The Timeless Capsule, Outside ION Orchard

Admission is free

ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu returns for its third year to recognise Singapore’s most outstanding photographer. In conjunction with Martell Cordon Bleu’s centenary celebrations, ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu will include new elements as part of this 100th year milestone. Curated around the centenary’s theme of Eternal Discovery, the photography exhibition will be presented in a multimedia format, thus taking photography appreciation to a whole new level. ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu will also be awarding the Eternal Discovery prize to the photographer with the most votes. The public can vote online at http://www.icon-martellcordonbleu.com.

The exhibition will be held in a specially constructed gallery called The Timeless Capsule outside ION Orchard. The Timeless Capsule will also host an exhibition on the heritage of the legendary Martell Cordon Bleu cognac as well as fringe activities involving art and gastronomy.


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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.





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.