i Light : Rekindling Nature, Reinterpreting Culture

Following an earlier post on the i Light Marina Bay 2012 installations to an inside-outside theme, here’s a collection of works that I’ve approached with a nature-culture categorisation based on the pieces’ subject matter.

Raising awareness on the sustainable future of our earth is a central motivation behind the i Light Festival that is a marriage of energy-efficient lighting technologies and concepts with art. During the three-week festival period, properties around the bay area as well as inland are galvanised to take part in the “Switch Off, Turn Up” Campaign where buildings are encouraged to switch off unnecessary lightings and turn up the thermostat of sir-conditioning.

Marina Bay bejewelled with lights is a truly spectacular sight! Through the “Switch Off, Turn Up” Campaign in conjunction with i Light, 79 tonnes of carbon emission has been reduced. And that’s only within the first week of the festival!

With all the nature-inspired installations that celebrated everything above the ground and under the sea with a sampling of culturally-inspired installations, the perimeter around Marina Bay became a circle of life that embodied the aspirations of humanity in light of urbanity. And here are the artistic expressions as a result of embracing globalisation modernism while cherishing nature and one’s culture…

Tree Stories by Angela Chong (Singapore)

After visiting the i Light Festival numerous times and awed by all the flashy light works, it took me some time to adjust to the quiet, simple allure of Tree Stories. Initially, it appeared to me that the installation was merely poems mounted on tree trunks instead of a wall or Facebook post with a rim of bulbs serving as reading light during nightfall. The work didn’t look like it required much effort or was it groundbreakingly creative with the use of lights.

Then as I was reading the selection of poems overlayed on living tree trunks with ants scurrying up and down the words, flies seemingly attracted to me for reasons I refuse to acknowledge, I began to appreciate the profound simplicity of this work.

True to Angela’s intention, her installation did achieve the intended effect of slowing me down to appreciate the surrounding, to smell the ‘roses’, in the midst of my busy lifestyle. The installation was a little out of the way from the clustering of other light exhibits and I wanted to just come here, take some photos and leave. I was astonished that when I was ready to go, I’d spent half an hour with it. On average, I loiter around an exhibit for at most 15 minutes.

Angela told us during an Artist Talks session that she grew up with trees. Although she doesn’t look like lady Tarzan, her piece revealed the inner tree-hugger within.

The installations don’t seem like much, but there’s a certain raw energy to it.

Giving voice and personality to trees that are a heritage of nature in the area.

This poem is a conversation between the tree and the cloud and how each envied the other. Here’s my favourite dialogue in the poem… Tree : The higher I grow, the further I will be grounded. Cloud : The fuller I get, the lower I float. How very true in many of lives’ situations! The higher up we are in an organisation, the harder it is to quit; and the more we are satisfied, the lower we will go to keep that satisfaction going.

Sometimes being too strong and rigid isolate us from being able to heal with affection. Well, that’s my interpretation of this poem.

When I took this photo, I thought about how Marina Bay Sands must’ve been a lucid dream in the early days of Singapore. How unimaginable and what an impossibility this building must’ve been. But it’s now a possibility (that’s why I tried to make ‘im’ less prominent in the photo).

Not just weather, but people have become more unpredictable especially in what is supposed to be a rooted relationship. I miss those days where monogamy is all that we know.

Looking at life through poems.

Living words.

Feeling the bugs and rain added a multi-sensory experience of Tree Stories. Forget interactive media, this is as experiential as one can get with a work of art.

Coral Garden by Olivia d’Aboville (The Philippines)

The Philippines with its massive archipelago of more than 7,000 islands make it home to some of the most beautiful dive sites with dramatic coral formations in Southeast Asia. But the practise of blast fishing had destroyed many of these undersea gardens.

And I think this rather sweet piece by Olivia is her way of reminding us of the plight of these diminishing coral establishments and the marine life they support.

Cheerleaders will love this installation coz you can combine a bunch of these and make it a glittering pom pom!

The fluffy mushroom-shaped sculptures were made from re-used cocktail stirrers. No wonder I find them so irresistable!

Grass of the sea on land. Please do not sit on them although they kinda look inviting as low stools.

Spinning the Panasonic Lumix GF3 on one of the corals.

A reinterpretation of corals with a massive collection of plastic cocktail stirrers.

5QU1D by Ryf Zaini (Singapore)

A festival commission, 5QU1D is spelt with alphabets and numbers to reflect the interweaving of urbanity with the natural environment, thereby creating a ‘mechanimal’ that’s adapted to us while we learnt to live with them.

Our very own Little Mermaid in the clutches of Ursula? “Out of the sea… Wish I could be… Part of that world…”

Pale sotong.

Caressing the tip of the front tentacle sends light waves that colourises 5QU1D.

Time to disco!

5QU1D is made of recycled and used electronic parts and LED lights.

With some wasabe and sakae will be out of this world!

Garden of Light by Hexogon Solution (Singapore)

One of the main attractions at i Light Marina Bay 2012 is the massive outdoor projection show, Garden of Light. I thought it’s such an ingenious idea to use the ‘petal’ structure of the Art Science Museum as a canvas to unfurl the story of a butterfly’s search for nature in the modern, digital world.

Three of the projectors sitting on the Helix Bridge.

Showtime! The projectors must be really powerful for clear projections at such a long distance.

The Art Science Museum and Marina Bay Sands have become a kind of modern cultural icons of Singapore.

Looks like a huge flower blooming by the bay.

The best time to shoot is 8:00pm and 9:30pm when a nightly light show takes over Marina Bay. It’s an all-out extravaganza!

Urban Makyoh by Light Collective (United Kingdom)

I have no idea that Makyoh is a form of ancient Japanese reflective light art until this exhibit had me enlightened. Also known as ‘magic mirrors’, the traditional Makyoh mirrors were highly polished metal surfaces with marks made on them to form patterns. These designs can only be fully appreciated when light is reflected off the mirrors onto a wall.

But you are definitely not one with a good sense of direction.

Delighting in a piece of Japanese cultural heritage.

Imagine having a Makyoh installed at home and you can get an ever changing wallpaper!

Different mirror plates to shine on to project their designs onto the wall.

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the most Foodielicious of them all?!” And the mirror replied, “Kawaii oishi neh!”

Gap the Mind by Be Takerng Pattanopas (Thailand)

Ohm in the city. Gap of Mind exudes the quiet strength of calm in the middle of our bustling Central Business District area. Well, that’s the feel I got from seeing and hearing it. The installation is a light and sound journey to inner peace.

But not everyone feels the same…

Got a chance to see the exhibit before it was pieced together. The installation draws its inspiration from monotone Lanna umbrellas traditionally used by Thai monks.

Saffron cloth being attached to an umbrella’s rim.

Resembling human-sized yellow lanterns, I heard a Chinese national remark that the pods resembled 血滴子(Flying Guillotine)! Another likened them to mobile toilets. *Slaps forehead*

The gong-inspired music was soothing and magnified spirituality but when I tried standing in one of the pods to reclaim a sense of calm, I became so conscious and aware how I must’ve looked to the people outside the chrome cocoon. Perhaps that’s what Gap of Mind is trying to achieve… to deepen our level of self-awareness.

Light of the Merlion by OCUBO (Portugal)

Another blockbuster exhibit is Light of the Merlion, another mind-blowing projection mapping installation where our evergreen national icon is given a splash of different colours every other minute!

The idea behind this piece is to let Singaporeans make the Merlion more personal by giving it a colourful paint-over. Having grown up with the white half-lion-half-fish statue and seeing it spew water for 37 years, I’ve never seen the Merlion more alive, vibrant and interesting to watch!

Marina Bay is not just an urban waterfront development but a not-to-be-missed tourist attraction.

Large, medium, small… The old and new icons of Singapore.

A chance for Singaporeans and visitors to leave their creative mark on our dear Merlion.

The precision in projection mapping is just amazing! And there are so many individual parts of the statue that can be coloured.

Point and paint. To think that the light projection on such a huge statue is control by this touchscreen interface.

i Light Marina Bay reached out to different generations to bring home the message of sustainability and art appreciation.

Never in the same light. With the multitude of parts to paint on the Merlion and varying colour palatte, I think everyone who took a shot of the Merlion at different times would have been unique.

This is the LAST weekend to catch all the i Light installations before the festival ends on Sunday, 1 April. Friends have been asking me if the festival is truly worth a visit.

My answer is always, “What’s there to lose in visiting? The festival is free, the interactivity and shows are innovative both visually and themetically, and the photo opportunities are endless.”

Furthermore. if this edition of i Light is missed, it’s another 2-year wait before the bay will see such displays of creativity again!


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