A final dance with the lights

1 04 2012


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.