The Future of Us Exhibition : An Insider Guide

Launched on 1 December 2015, The Future of Us exhibition is a multi-sensory and experiential showcase of the ideas and possibilities for our little red dot by the year 2030 and beyond.

I have the privilege of working on this national exhibition as a producer for a number of items within it and hope that this blog post can offer an insight into the invisible intent behind some of the exhibits as well as the challenges we faced to make your visit to the exhibition more flavourful.

I will also share tips so that you get the most out of your experience at the exhibition.


Vertical panoramic shot of the Symphony of the City dome at The Future of Us exhibition. Share your photos with the hashtags #FutureSG #SGfuture #TheFutureOfUs!

When I first heard the brief for The Future of Us, my eyes widened at how forward thinking the creative direction is. Then my eyes rolled to the back of my head thinking about how challenging it would be to achieve what the client envisioned.

The creative direction, first of all, called for the exhibition to be innovative and panel-less where visitors are not swallowed by a labyrinth of panelled information and things to read, but an experiential journey into the future.

Secondly, this exhibition is to be all-inclusive. From the exhibition’s spatial design that applies barrier-free access principles to include families with prams and visitors on wheelchairs to content elements that included people of all races, ages, languages, and profiles. By profiles, the client meant people with tattoos, single parents, same-sex coupling, underprivileged persons, and citizens with a disability. The Future of Us aims to leave no one unrepresented. This spirit of inclusiveness forms the foundation on which to truly appreciate the exhibition with.


The Future of Us exhibition is located within the compound of Gardens by the Bay (access via Bayfront MRT Station Exit B). It is open daily from 1 Dec 2015 to 8 Mar 2016, 9am – 9pm. Admission is free but ticket reservation is encouraged. Reserve your ticket at

The premise for the exhibition to be innovative, panel-less and all-inclusive guided the exhibition’s design as well as drove many of us who worked on the project to the asylum.


Kee seow (‘up crazy’) at The Future of Us project site.

Pico Singapore is the chief designer, consultant and builder for The Future of Us exhibition in collaboration with an ensemble of award-winning film, light and sound directors as well as creative agencies.

The Architecture – 4 Domes, 7 Zones

From conceptualisation to design to build to opening, the realisation of The Future of Us exhibition took about a year and involved over 100 governmental agencies, private entities, non-profit establishments, schools and public contributions. The exhibition structure consists of 4 massive domes that anchor an exhibitory experience that spans 7 zones.


A lattice roof designed by students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) forms a porous skin that wraps around the domes.


Doesn’t it feel like Star Wars?


As the sun shines through the lattice, a patterned shadow that shifts with the sun’s position dresses up the domes and ground.


Visit The Future of Us exhibition in the late afternoon and you just might catch the setting sun peeping through the lattice.

The Experience

As mentioned, the exhibition consists of 7 seamless zones and here’s a quick summary of what they are :

1 – The Future Express… welcome and holding area

2 – Theatre of Generations (Dome 1)… massive projection film

3 – Symphony of the City (Dome 2)… immersive LED show

4 – Home Tomorrow (Dome 3)… interactive exhibits showcase

5 – Blue Skies (Dome 4)… contribution of wishes and hopes

6 – The Lion… playground with all-inclusive equipment

7 – The Marketplace… future products and conversation space


After admission at the Arrival Plaza area, you will come to The Future Express at the exhibition’s entrance. You’ll spend about half an hour here before entering Dome 1. There are no toilets in this holding area so my advise is to go before coming here if it is urgent. Else, it will be quite a walk to toilet facilities located near the SG50 car park. After entering Dome 1, there are toilet facilities within the exhibition space.


The photos in this blog post were taken prior to the exhibition’s opening so some of the spaces, such as this welcome area, look different after finishing touches were added.

The Future Express

Connecting the past to the future, The Future Express takes the approach of imagined local newspaper headlines that pay tribute to 3 different time periods – 1965, 2015 and 2030.

Presented as 3 installations that correspond with each time period, the simulated front pages of The Future Express newspaper lets you get a glimpse of lifestyles in the 1960s, feel the Singapore spirit through spontaneous events that happened in 2015, and anticipate the possibilities of 2030.


The Future Express simulates a printing press with imagined headlining topics that capture our past, encapsulate our present and captivate our future.


Front page news that come with “moving” headline images that are essentially video clips about where we were, what makes us, us, and where are we heading. Watch the clips at the exhibition for some really uplifting moments.


After exploring The Future Express area, you will be guided to pass through this corridor to enter the first dome that houses the Theatre of Generations.

Theatre of Generations

Better hold on to your jaw as you enter the Theatre of Generations for the massive 360-degree half dome projection is bound to leave you awestruck.

Theatre of Generations explores the underlying values that power our strive for success through 4 characters in the year 2030 and how their aspirations are linked to their grandparents’ generation from 1965. The dreams and struggles of these characters are first mooted in this 5-minute film and as you move from zone to zone, if you look closely, you’ll notice that what the characters set out to achieve slowly takes shape along the way.


The 4 main characters in the Theatre of Generations film are (from left to right) – Joseph, a Eurasian social worker; Yi Xin, a wheel-chair bound Chinese designer; Faizal, a Malay cycling enthusiast and entrepreneur; and Ravina, an Indian horticulturist.


The film begins in the year 2030 with the 4 characters seeking a breakthrough to realize their dreams and goes on a reverse time-lapse to 1965 to draw a parallel with the aspirations and challenges their grandparents faced. And it is through values such as working together regardless of our race, language or religion; openness; having a stake in our communities and home; and the can-do spirit that have Singapore made… and will continue to be our pillars of success into the future.

What are the challenges faced by the different generations of Singapore citizens? Find out at the Theatre of Generations.

While you can’t miss what’s going on in the film with such a huge screen, there is a sweet spot to stand to best enjoy this larger-than-life experience and that is to the sides near the entrance of the theatre.

Symphony of the City

This immersive dome is where you get transported into the possible living environments of the future through a 4-minute show unfolding across a huge 270-degree wraparound LED screen that is 35 metres long! Another visual spectacle in this dome is a model with projection mapping that allows elements from the show to spill over into 3D form.

The Symphony of the City explores exciting ideas and developmental possibilities on a macro level in future Singapore. Some of these ideas are far-fetched and may or may not materialise, some are already at the stage of test-bedding for potential mass adoption (eg. autonomous vehicles), while some are already in the process of being realised (eg. expanded MRT network, enhanced greenery, round-island cycling network, advanced water quality testing robots in the shape of a swan, etc).

The show provides a glimpse of what life could be like as future infrastructural developments open up more choices for us to set our desired pace of life.


Look out for these intro boards at the beginning of various exhibition zones for a synopsis of what you’re about to experience.


As you walk through the different zones, you’ll notice a thread of text that weaves through the exhibition. This is the Thread of Us and it is made up of hopes and wishes contributed by Singapore citizens from all walks of life in 4 languages. In the Symphony of the City dome, the thread takes the form of a techno wave that undulates across the LED screens.


The show follows Ravina, Yi Xin, Faizal and Joseph as they went about their daily lives in the year 2030.


The storytelling takes a 3D form when designs of future public housing are mapped onto objects on the projection model. Producing the Symphony of the City show has been very challenging because of the huge screen size and the need to coordinate the show and projection sequences.

Contents are very rich at the Symphony of the City and it can be a lot to digest. The best place to take it all in is to stand just behind the row of cushion seats. Standing provides a better experience as you can see more of what’s going on at the projection model as compared to sitting down.

Home Tomorrow

While Symphony of the City looks at the possible macro developments in Singapore, Home Tomorrow offers you a peep into the micro level technological innovations and evolution in ideologies that could impact the way we live, learn, work, care and defend in the future.

There are a number of interactive exhibits in this zone which you can explore to find out more about the future of learning and different pathways to success, how smart homes can potentially enable us to better care for our love ones, possible concepts in creating a more sustainable living environment, urban farming, multi-tiered living, and many more.


Does this look like a computer generated graphic? Well, it’s not. It is actually a photo!


The graphic wall encircling the Home Tomorrow dome often gets neglected but take a closer look and discover the little nuggets of future living.


Peep into possible future lifestyles through the windows of the tower blocks.


Get your eyes and hands busy at Home Tomorrow with a bevy of interactive multimedia exhibits.

Blue Skies

This is the 4th domed experience and you can share your hopes, dreams and wishes for Singapore digitally here. Whatever your aspirations are, you are not alone in your dreams.


The sky’s the limit for our aspirations for Singapore.


You can select a category and write or draw your message.


Your completed message is cast onto the circular screen above. There are viewers at the side of the dome where you can see what other contributors have written.

The Lion

Dreams will remain as dreams without action. At The Lion playground, you can go on a swing or move fitness equipments in the zone to generate kinetic energy that powers the roar of the lion.

The Lion playground is a metaphor that the success of Singapore depends on every citizen playing a part and taking lead to collectively power our achievements in all aspects for the future.


If you notice, the design of The Lion sculpture is done by the 2030 character Yi Xin, who is a wheelchair bound designer. From having a dream about creating an inclusive playground in Theatre of Generations to working on her dream in Symphony of the City to the realisation of her design in The Lion, subtle plotlines are planted throughout the exhibition as part of an overarching storyline. Try identifying the underlying stories for the other 3 characters – Faizal, Joseph and Ravina.


Look out for a surprise at The Lion zone. Hint : It floats.


Swingapore galore!


A unique feature of The Lion playground is the inclusion of swing seats that allow people with disabilities to enjoy a fun ride.

After having some fun swinging at The Lion, head on over to The Marketplace for a glimpse of future products that could appear on our shelves. Conversations with various agencies about future ideas, demonstrations and talks are also held there.

Stay for the Night

At sundown, The Future of Us reveals a different side as the lattice and domes get painted with a splash of colourful lights.


White and steely during the day…


… all ready to party at night.


Light confetti on the lattice.


The future has landed.

The Future of Us is not a governmental masterplan exhibition but a consolidation of visions that the various ministries as well as everyday Singaporeans have for the days ahead. The future is not only about our built environment, the hardware, but more importantly, the software, the human element behind every improvement and transformation.

I have read several Facebook feedback that some of the ideas presented in the exhibition are impossible and that compassion is lacking in our future aspirations. Yes, some of the ideas are far-fetched, just as putting man on the moon or in the sky was seemingly impossible before 1969. As for the missing human quotient, they are there but not very apparent. During the production of contents in the various domes, our client constantly reminded us to not neglect the ‘soul’ that drives our progress. It is something that the client cannot force, but hope for, that graciousness and empathy can be as much a part of our social fabric as it is in the acquisition of prosperity.

If you look closely at the Theatre of Generations and Symphony of the City shows, you will see an abled citizen helping a blind person, someone giving up a seat to another who needs it more, urban farming for community benefit, social work that can reach more needy persons, and other socially empathetic aspects that will hopefully be the heart that our future is built around.

It is great that the Facebook feedbacks mentioned that because it showed that that’s what people care about and want. And if we all want a more caring society, we can get there :o)


During our production of the exhibition, the epic exhibitory techniques that presented unprecedented challenges aside, the dilemma was always how not to over promise while delivering real possibilities for the future. Although this is not a government masterplan / blueprint kind of exhibition but a presentation of collective dreams, we were cautious not to produce a fantasy.

So after tossing around several ideas to find the right pitch of future-ness for the exhibition, the creative consensus agreed on a style between the fantastical Tomorrowland and the local realism of 2025, a Mediacorp Channel 5 TV drama series that everybody didn’t watch.


Green screen video shoots were our blank pages to create future scenes for almost 70% of show contents in The Future of Us exhibition.


From green screens to green-scapes, the future of Singapore is going to be very green. We endured the outdoor burn but alas, this scene of us using various personal mobility devices at Marina Bay East was cut from the Symphony of the City show and there goes my dream to be Singapore’s next uncle idol.


My skulls and bones polo-tee probably wasn’t very auspicious to be worn on site while the exhibition was still undergoing construction but I was eager to see the progress of Home Tomorrow because it was the dome that gave the team the most headaches.


We survived the hard work of yesterday to bring you The Future of Us! We are only the tip of the iceberg that made the exhibition happen. I hope you would, or had, enjoyed the exhibition and may we continue to build our magnificent city into an endearing home that is affordable, gracious, caring and inclusive for all!

Total Defence 30 : An Experiential Showcase

Total Defence celebrates its 30th anniversary with a experiential exhibition at National Museum Singapore where the stories of unlikely social vigilantes take center stage. Titled “Because You played a Part”, the exhibition draws on personal accounts as well as hot topics to lead visitors on a trail of discovery spanning all 3 levels of the museum.

National Museum was temporarily transformed into a defence base with a military rover (not in photo), marine cruiser and fire-fighting vehicles stationed at the entrance.

Having as much interest in militaristic stuff as Anton Casey has in our “poor people” transport system, I wasn’t expecting much from the Total Defence 30 : An Experiential Showcase exhibition but I was pleasantly surprised.

The defenders (our people) and the defended (our home).

Although the story threading through the entire exhibition was quite hard to follow, I found the narrative idea and highly interactive exhibits to be refreshing and earn top marks for balls and creativity in distilling Total Defence ideologies into palatable bits.

And one of the best things, apart from really friendly and cheery helpers at all stations of the exhibition, was the feat of fusing something as dry as Total Defence with artistic endeavours. While some aspects of the presentation can be improved further provided that budget and museum restrictions permit, the exhibition delivers its promise as a truly experiential showcase that breathed life into the 5 tenets of Total Defence :

1. Military Defence

2. Civil Defence

3. Economic Defence

4. Social Defence

5. Psychological Defence

The journey starts with how you feel and the thoughts of 5 Singaporeans about what Total Defence means to them across the various demographics of Singaporeans (employee, entrepreneur, student, retiree, and homemaker). You can choose which character to follow and uncover more stories (the related characters are colour coded) on all 3 levels of the museum or explore every exhibit at each designated exhibition space.
I chose to follow the path of the entrepreneur (Abdul Hadi) because who doesn’t want to be boss right? LOL!

Immersive staging at the introduction zone lets you walk into the concerns and stories of different Singaporeans on Total Defence.

The lifestyle sets have scenes fashioned to correspond with the characters and it was really fun to just sit at the different chairs and watch talking heads relay thoughts.

Tried as I may to pretend I’ve not seen the retro phone and thus acknowledge my age, I can’t help but shimmy in the “awwww” of nostalgia.

After the lifestyle zone, my trail led to a cool minimalist exhibition chamber that featured a varied collection of information presentation methods. From simple touchscreen modules to reveal positive and negative media messages…

… to a hall of mirrors to reflect upon your community role through expanding social situations, to social media reactions and advocacies. I like it that the exhibition incorporated some of the hot social media topics such as “Chope Food for the Needy” and how the exhibits embraced the conversations of real Singaporeans… with the inclusion of Singlish! My blog got “Lah” so you know how much I love Singlish 🙂

Big questions that need reflection.

My Total Defence journey brought me to the basement of the museum. I couldn’t find the next personality in my blue trail (Pat Law) but was delighted with this camou version of the Churning of the Sea of Milk from the Mahabharata epic by Cambodian artist, Svay Sareth.

Part of the Singapore Biennale 2013 “If the World Changed” exhibition, this quirky interpretation of the mural found at Angkor Wat into a stuffed toy served as the artist’s mock at the “illusion of cooperation within exploitative hierarchies”. I understand the artist’s angst but I’m more taken with the lovable appeal of this physical moniker to the sculpture found at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

From basement one, I was brought to level 2 of the National Museum on my Total Defence journey where I’d learn by now that we have the power for social change especially in the era of social media. This zone of the exhibition featured classic information panels but instead of using pre-fabricated exhibition frame systems, the panel structures were customized with relevant media features such as a playback of Dick Lee’s culturally-harvested musical tracks.

National security is a collaboration amongst citizens as well as with government agencies. This message of teamwork was creatively transferred to players of this simple game where one party fingered the Braille impressions on one side and described them to a partner on the other. The partner then deciphers the letters to reveal the Braille word. Brilliant!

2-in-1 photo wall where photographic works are projected on…

… and converts into a simple frame for visitors to be Singaporean of the Day. It’s achieved easily by covering the projector with a card.

When kids saw this Lego replica of the 2004 Nicoll Highway collapse, they rushed over and started banging the vehicles and plucking at the ‘debris’ pieces. Alarmed, the parents immediately chided the kids to not break the display (which was already broken).
Then came the clever part of bringing the message across… The student helper assured the parents that it’s ok for the children to dismantle the exhibit because this shows how fragile our society can be. One wrong move and everything can come apart. Then the kids were encouraged to rebuild the bridge instead. Which they did.

At a space outside the permanent gallery that traces the history of Singapore’s food, this partially immersive set was staged to share the story of Ya Kun, one of the pioneer coffee stallholders who is now a household brand in Singapore with countless outlets all over the island.
When Ya Kun started his coffee stall, he only had 2 tables, hence the display, and he slept on top of the tables so that he can wake up at 5am every morning to start his business. A fine example of the early 刻苦耐劳 spirit that has been replaced by the call to work smart instead of hard nowadays.

This Reflection Wall allows visitors to leave messages after they toured the exhibits to family and friends or feedback on the showcase. It’s a low cost solution to engage visitors but I like how the old-school pencils invokes a sense of nostalgia. Well, at least for me coz my primary school days were spent sharpening pencils instead of clicking those mechanical ones.

Riding on hopes for peace in Singapore on Red Scorpion, a fire-fighting bike that is the first response vehicle to all fires in Singapore.

Producing contents, messages and exhibits for events and exhibitions (mostly involving governmental or related agencies) for close to 5 years, I must say that the Total Defence showcase was a daring departure from most stat boards’ preference to cram as much information as possible into every inch of communication real estate.

While this approach has certain pitfalls as most messages are inferred rather than blatant, I enjoyed the ample mental breathing space as a result of knowledge de-cluttering and the focus of a single idea for each tactile interactive. And the exhibits’ design while not jaw-dropping, blended tastefully with the museum environment.

My only grouse was that some of the characters along a story path was hard to track down (I never found the character Pat Law in the Entrepreneur path that I followed) and the Total Defence exhibits had to compete with other exhibitions going on at the museum. I was waylaid many times to check out installations of Biennale 2013 and other themed galleries that joining the dots of the Total Defence narrative became sporadic.

Nonetheless, with some patience and determination to complete the story trail, I got the gist of how entrepreneurship contributes to Economic Defence while discovering other Total Defence concepts along the way.

Then again, I think that’s kinda cool because I learnt more as I was motivated to make sense of the modular personality-based accounts. Not that I’m an expert just because I’m in the events and exhibitions industry, but I feel that the Total Defence 30 : An Experiential Showcase was gutsy in its creative direction and something of a breakthrough to artify national policies.

And it’s free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents to visit!

“Because You Played a Part” Total Defence 30 : An Experiential Showcase is on from 15 – 23 Feb 2014 at National Museum Singapore.

Art Stage Singapore 2014

I’ve always held on to my primitive definition of art as something beautiful; an intentional creation for the purpose of delighting and entertaining the senses. But I’m not so sure after visiting Art Stage Singapore 2014.

Having about as much art education as Homer Simpson can do math, I’m never the arty-farty sort. I can neither call out artists by name (except those very famous dead ang moh ones like Leonardo Da Vinci, Monet, Manet, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Shakespeare… you get the drift) nor identify their works. If I’m found at an art event, it’s usually for the free champagne.

No free booze at Art Stage 2014 but I did get a complimentary ticket (which costs S$30) from a friend who knew I’d have fun photographing the installations and works of art.

Entrance to Art Stage 2014 held at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre from 17 – 19 Jan 14.

I wasn’t so sure I would enjoy the exhibition initially as I know nothing about art and don’t want to look stupid by not knowing why that name on a label is such a big deal, but I actually had fun.

The 4th edition of the annual art event attracted more than 40,500 visitors, 600 artists and 130 galleries from 28 countries.

In terms of photo opportunities, I didn’t find that many as taking photos of paintings felt like rip-offs while snapping pics of installations and sculptures required thick skin to saunter into the space of a participating art gallery, take the photos and walk off without making eye contact with the dealers in case they think I have a fat wallet.

Art above as it is below.

Art Stage is Asia’s global art gathering where artists and collectors are brought together.

My aging Samsung Galaxy S3 also ran out of juice quickly so I missed capturing some of the impressive pieces later into my visit. So here’s a glimpse of Art Stage 2014 and some of the pieces that had me amused or allowed me to create photographic ‘art’ out of art…

This huge goldfish sculpture with bulging eyes by Yan Ma-Lin greeted visitors entering the exhibition hall. To me, the goldfish looks like a wide-eyed idealist who has swam out of its painted pond (the painting behind) from this angle.

This scene with a huge seashell in front of a photo of a crowd gave me an epiphany about people who came out of their shells to join the world.

Nightmares can be beautiful… Artist Damien Hirst painted with insects in this visually extravagant piece that is one of my favourites.

Close up of the ingenious bugs mandala featuring jewel beetles, scorpions, atlas moths, leaf insects, Goliath beetles, and many specimens from the forests of South America as well as Asia. It’s a masterpiece from the masterpieces of nature!

Boomz! Deepavali just got kinky?

Bat you love to get some S&M action.

My, what a big mouth you have.

Yue Minjun’s Contemporary Terracotta Warrior No. 10’s laugh is infectious. I can’t help but smile looking at him.

Freedom is letting it all hang out.

她真的看得很开。。。Absolutely hilarious comment by one of my Facebook friends!

Two eras of China.

Consumerism is the new communism?

This oil on canvas by Akiko Kinugawa is Untitled but I think a fitting name would be Sourpuss. LOL.

A slice of eroticart… an interesting piece composed by many layers of print on plastic sheets laid in sequence to achieve a fantasy effect of the nude torso. The effect doesn’t quite show in photo and best seen in person.

Looks like a simple installation but getting each piece of acrylic sheet to be at the same precise height must be backbreaking work.

Hello, Kitty… We decided to create art of our own.

Sometimes in life, we just have to bend over and take it from behind.


Show your true colours.

Life imitating art.

Toshio’s sister found! Toshio is the ghost child from Jap horror movie, The Grudge.

This lonely and cold painting sure could use some fire to keep warm.

Is this art?

Many of the art pieces had been eye-opening in their creative techniques and executions. While the definition of art is subjective, some of the pieces were rather trashy to my commoner eye. Yet, their unartistry provoked a response as much as the stunning works made the heart gasp.

Transcending beauty, my Art Stage foray reminded me that art and the appreciation of it should go beyond the realm of sensory pleasure and embrace the provocative emotional dialogue brought on by art that makes one uneasy.

If I have to explain what is art to someone now, I would say it is the language of the soul.

Orchard Road Christmas Decor 2013

Some of this year’s happy lights along Orchard Road shot entirely with my aging Samsung Galaxy S3…

Plaza Singapura’s outdoor decoration looked anorexic this year.

One of the oldest shopping icon in Singapore, Plaza Singapura used to have such elaborate dress up that turned its main entrance into a playground. Now it’s just a small tree behind its acrylic version of the United Colours of Benetton. Money no enough?

Orchard Central usually have some statement pieces in its Christmas décor and this year, it puts the green into the yuletide season with decorations made by recycling the bottom of plastic bottles. Quite a neat idea.

Saw a narcissistic tree outside Orchard Central. The saying about narcissists is that they seldom have a good ending. Point proven with this photo? LOL.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree. Here’s the partridge. But where’s my true love? 😦

Louis Vuitton’s Christmas window display took a light-hearted ride on the wild side with geese pulling a sleigh of LV gift-things. But I suddenly have the craving to eat Lou (卤) 鸭.

It’s an unusual sight… Malays singing Christian hymns and Christmas carols. Singapore is so progressive!

ION Orchard erects a giant Christmas tree (yet again) to herald the festivities. Combined with huge screens flashing advertisements and a massive LED skin wrapped around its outer visage, the décor gave the illusion that there is a lot going on when there’s really not much. It has what I call the ‘Chinese Ghost Story effect’… a pretty maiden by night and a grave during the day.

Bring on the bling and celebratION!

The HIGHlight (no pun intended) is staring high up at the tower of lights inside ION Orchard’s gigantic tree. It makes the eyes dizzy.

When seen in focus, the inside looks like a Star Wars set.

Another spin shot of the lights created by simply turning the mobile phone while shooting. The lights change colours so each ‘vortex’ photo can look different.

Wheelock Place had Christmas decals in the shape of gingerbread men, snowflakes and poinsettias on its glass doors. We decided to turn gingerbread dude into a lass. Hahaha…

A peep into Wheelock Place’s Christmas decorations.

It’s an astrological Christmas with a constellation of lights.

Turning the Christmas cones into planets.

Forum Galleria had a novel idea to bring in the safari for Christmas with birds and beasts of the topics and savannah.

The concept was unusual but the zoo theme felt salah.

Let it snow, let it snow! Tanglin Mall always draw the crowd with its faux snow.

Better have fun and enjoy it as this could very well be the last year that Tanglin Mall brings ‘winter’ to Singapore.

Didn’t get to cover all the mall decors as I started shooting the lights this year pretty late.

But with this shots, I wish you and your love ones a Christmas filled with affection, happiness and good health! 🙂

Day 308 : We are Loving Marina Bay!

If there is one place in Singapore that has gone through the most dramatic changes in the past 30 years, in my opinion, it has got to be Marina Bay. From reclamation works starting in 1971 that expanded our bay mass by another 177ha to the progressive developments that transformed the downtown waterfront area into a showcase of trophy skyscrapers and iconic architecture, Marina Bay would have people falling in love with our little red dot in a heartbeat.

So when I was approached to be one of 20 featured photographers and bloggers for the Loving Marina Bay outdoor photo exhibition, I was struck with cephalgia for decent shots to submit. The pressure was high because my photos will appear alongside pro-photogs and multi-award winning photo enthusiasts. I didn’t want to be the weakest link that bring down the overall standard of the exhibited works.

Launch of Loving Marina Bay exhibition at San-Sui Sumiyaki & Bar at One Fullerton. Food was simply amazing with top marks for taste and creativity.

To hunt for the photos, I scoured through folders after folders of photos I’d taken of and at the bay area within the last 2 years while reaching into my memory bank for personal Marina Bay encounters.

My most enduring awareness of Marina Bay began at the now defunct Satay Club where my mum used to work as a beer promoter at night. While waiting for her to get off work, I spent many hours playing by the Tan Kim Seng Fountain which marked the entrance of Satay Club. The fountain still stands today but the waters have dried up like my very distant childhood.

Good thing is, there are so many more avenues around the bay for new memories to be born and the Loving Marina Bay photo exhibition is a collective dialogue with our darling waterfront!

Met up with many photographers and bloggers whose works and words I follow on Facebook and their personal sites. I feel so little in the presence of their mammoth talents and creative capacity.

All featured AmBAYssadors were presented with a token of appreciation with one of our photos printed in canvas. It was wonderful that URA recognised our contributions for the exhibition with such a thoughtful and unique gift.

Occupying a stretch known as Clifford Square (between One Fullerton and Collyer Quay), the outdoor exhibition is high on gawk factor with stunning shots of Marina Bay through the unique perspectives of individual AmBAYssador.

Photos ranged in subject matters from architecture, celebrations, festivals, people, Marina Bay at dawn, and at night.

Retrace the footsteps of Marina Bay’s development with Street Museum style photos where heritage photos are mapped onto current scenes around the bay.

Scene with the old General Post Office (right) which has been given a new lease of life as the luxurious Fullerton Hotel.

Collyer Quay then and now.

I chose these 4 photos to show the different aspect of Marina Bay… the abstract, the fiery, the contemplative, and the vibrancy.

Frame your love at Marina Bay!

Loving Marina Bay.

Loving Marina Gay?

Loving Marina Yay!

The photo under the Esplanade Bridge was taken with Casio Exilim ZR100 and this goes to show that compact cameras can take exhibition-worthy pics too!

Map showing the location of Loving Marina Bay exhibition and Fullerton Hotel where you can drop off postcards produced in conjunction with the event and it will be sent anywhere in the world free-of-charge. One of the 6 postcards is my dawn over Marina Bay photo.

The Loving Marina Bay photo exhibition runs from 3 Nov – 3 Dec 2012. It is a free-to-public event with special photography workshops, activities and heritage walks conducted by AmBAYssadors happening every weekend. So come on down and check out the photos! … and discover a piece of Marina Bay that you love 🙂

Day 301 : In the Affairs of Cats & Dogs

It’s raining cats and dogs inside Esplanade’s foyer as artist Chua Boon Kee turned the Prime Minister’s Nation Day Rally speech last year about culling cats and saving dogs into a light-hearted art installation.

Titled ‘In the Affairs of Cats & Dogs, the Government’s Involved and So Shall We’, Boon Kee’s proposal won the most votes at the Esplanade’s 13 Steps art competition to celebrate its 10th anniversary. I found the whimsical assembly of cats and dogs so adorable. Paw this way to check out the installation from 11 Oct 2012 – 1 Jan 2013.

Aren’t they just so adorable? The good news is, there’s a chance for you to own one of them! Some of the cats and dogs on display are up for adoption and you just need to email a short explanation of why you would be a responsible adopter and include your name, NRIC number, address and contact details to Good luck!

Day 213 : Nostalgic Chic with Hermes The Gift of Time Exhibition

Time. It is a gift, but also a curse. It all depends on whether we are in control and decide what we do with it, or we allow others use it up for us.

Tonight, I used and was ‘used’. Both in a good way at Hermès’ The Gift of Time exhibition at the now-defunct Tanjong Pagar Railway Station. I haven’t stepped inside the national monument for a long time and was pleasantly surprised by how the station could appear so mod and glamed up.

Thanks to an invitation by the queen of quirks, Juliana, who didn’t want to attend the exhibition’s gala preview alone, I had the rare chance to fill my Tuesday evening with high fashion, artful creativity, nostalgia, and not enough champagne.

The exhibition runs from 1 – 12 August 2012, 11am – 9pm daily. Entrance is free.

Conceptualised by American artist, scenographer, poet and long-time collaborator of Hermès, Hilton McConnico interpreted time as Hermès sees it through seven roomfuls of poetry, installation art, creativity and imagination.

The rooms are arranged in a circular loop to represent the cycle of time. And here’s sharing with you my time at the exhibition…

Room 1 : The Origin of Time. The motif on the sundial’s face is an Hermès scarf designed in 1963. I felt so under dressed amongst the well-heeled crowd in designer dresses and tailored jackets. Time, obviously, has not taught me good fashion sense.

Room 2 : Free Time.

Room 3 : Time Suspended.

Room 4 : Time Balance.

Room 5 : The Stroke of Time.

Mosaic cat pieced together by cut-out pieces of leather.

Room 6 : Imaginary Time.

Room 7 : The Gift of Time.

Wine gets better with time.

Yesteryear toys I grew up with.

The U Cafe serves up a mean menu to enjoy a meal or cuppa by the old rail road.

Day 143 : They Only Come at Night – Pandemic

Singapore is under attack by a deadly virus that turns the infected into bloodthirsty vampires and we are the last survivors! We must escape to OldSchool, the last stronghold where survivors gather and hopefully, we will make it out of this pandemic alive!

And that’s the story premise of the most experiential piece of theatre at this year’s Singapore Arts Festival. Happening at OldSchool, They Only Come at Night : Pandemic is a play where the audience gets to play. What does that mean? Quite simply, the audience is a part of this theatrical production that unfolds like a larger-than-life diorama.

I won’t divulge the story, but here’s an account of how I survived…

Pandemic took place at OldSchool, which is the former Methodist Girls’ School turned art enclave.

Located on Mount Sophia, the old world setting provided an excellent backdrop for a piece of drama that took advantage of the site.

What horrors await?

Crucifix in hand and garlic in pants.

Our journey to survive the vampires begins with a free exploration of the post-apocalyptic school…

I was told that OldSchool would be demolished soon so Pandemic was a great opportunity for us to wander and feel the nostalgia charm one last time.

Listening to narration that gives the background on what caused the pandemic while finding our way around. There was quite a bit of walking around and climbing of stairs. It was exercise theatre!

The school premises was dressed up to inject fear but not to the scare level of haunted houses.

Who or what is Quinn? My curiousity was stroked. The answer was revealed during the play.

Lots of broken salt circles littered the set. Complete salt circles are believed to be protection rings that keep evil forces out.

After exploring the upper level corridors, the audience gathered at the performance space on the lower level.

One advice for catching Pandemic… bring perfume or axe oil. As the play progresses, the most scary things weren’t the impending threat of being devoured by a vampire, but the body odours that emanated from everyone around.

The actors stood on makeshift stages to deliver their lines and at times, came down and interacted with the audience.

Close encounters of the fright kind.

Performed as a piece of interactive theatre where the audience were also props and actors, I thought the concept was creatively novel and interesting. But anyone seeking to be really spooked would be disappointed, as was I.

Personally, I felt the audience participation was merely a means of distracting the audience from a script we’ve seen so many times at the movies and the play’s cliche characterisations. The actors did a good job, just that the evening started out promising but the creature feature was too safe to raise any heart rates. They vampires was what we came for after all.

And the lenghty dialogues lost out to the sticky heat of an open-air performance space and didn’t quite reach a level of engagement where I felt for what went on, the five characters, or the theme of courage.

But for the unusual way that a play can be presented and experienced, I think Pandemic had stabbed a stick right at the heart of creativity.

They Only Come at Night : Pandemic runs from 22 – 27 May 2012.

Ticket Price : S$36.00 from SISTIC.

Day 138 : Flight of the Jade Bird

The annual Singapore Arts Festival launches this year on the wings of Mark Chan’s The Flight of the Jade Bird, a chorusical where the struggle between industrialisation and old-world tradition is sung-told as a modern fable.

Consisting an ensemble of five singers, 10-piece orchestra, a dancer, and a narrator, Jade Bird’s austere staging somehow felt awkward against the rather quirky narrative script. Perhaps that’s the intention of Mark Chan, Jade Bird’s story originator, music composer and director, to let audiences experience the chasm that modernisation has driven into humanity.

Great artistic risks were definitely taken with the scripting and stylistic presentation of the piece. If I were to use an analogy, it would be like eating Myojo noodles from a fine China porcelain bowl with pure silver fork, spoon and knife. Being the dimwit at fine art appreciation, I fought hard to connect with Jade Bird’s disharmony of eastern-western instrumentations and the abstract interpretation of the title character in the form of a dancer writhing with a dark drape of cloth. That kinda resembled a phantom or Casper trapped inside a giant black pillowcase. Again, the artistic intent could be spot on in portraying the Jade Bird as a shadow but I was expecting something more visually stimulating. Perhaps this theatrical piece would be more at home as a CD soundtrack release.

I am no connoisseur of the arts so please do not take my juvenile comments as a qualified review of Jade Bird. What I failed to appreciate may make a lot of sense to somebody else. The Flight of the Jade Bird will be staged for two nights only (18 and 19 May 2012, 7.30pm) at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Ticket prices range from S$20 to S$100 purchaseable online through SISTIC.

About Singapore Arts Festival 2012

To the theme of Our Lost Poems (2012), this year’s arts fest is the final edition of a three-part trilogy preceded by Between You and Me (2010) and I Want to Remember (2011).

The festival will run from 18 May to 2 June with ticketed shows and a bevy of free public performances at the Festival Village (Esplanade Park) by a stellar line-up of local and international acts. Don’t miss the artful entertainments happening these two weeks made possible by the Singapore Arts Festival!

Related Post : Singapore Arts Festival 2012 Bloggers’ Preview

Day 088 : Merlion in Drag

Since agreeing to be an Official Blogger for i Light Marina Bay 2012, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been to the bay area to photograph the lights. I prefer to come during weekedays after work to avoid the crowd but that means I’ll have to endure hunger till 11:30pm to have dinner.

I usually eat after I get home as dining around the bay is expensive. A meal costs about S$20 so if I’ve been there 5 times, I would’ve spent at least S$100. So if you intend to shoot the i Light installations these few days, bring along some food.

This is the last week that the festival will be on so don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to photograph the artworks!

Tonight, I finally made it to see Light of the Merlion by OCUBO from Portugal. I’d seen countless photos and videos of this projection piece but being there in person was just something surreal.

I’ve seen  our national icon in a prettier light!

i Light : Artifying Inside Spaces and Outside Places

More than just an exercise in visual acrobatics, I think art that utilises lights as its medium invites viewers to expect the unexpected and purports a dimension of beauty that’s both transcendental and hypnotic.

Instead of passively viewing a painting or sculpture and contemplating what it does to us inside (I think that’s what it is meant by art appreciation), lightarts heighten the awareness of our surroundsings and renewed an appreciation of what’s on the outside. We start to see how a scenery converse with the changing volcabulary of light. And how sometimes the weakest glow, illuminates things that we’ve never noticed.

So here is a small collection of installations from this year’s i Light that I came across from visiting the festival five times so far. Although inadequately, I’ve classified these works into how they artified an indoor space and outdoor place. I hope this post will turn on in you a different perspective of the art pieces and ways to photograph them.

With the Official Blogger pass, I had the privilege of visiting the exhibits before they were completed and direct access to the artists so I’m incorporating some of these behind-the-scenes moments in the hope that they will add to your feel about the works… 🙂

Crystallised by Andrew Daly and Katherine Fife (Australia)

Comprising of 5,000 acrylic icicles, the overhanging canopy of lights looked like a miniature interpretation of auroras in the polar hemispheres. Understated and unflambouyant, the creators of Crystallised attempted to invoke the awe of looking up at a night sky of ever fluctuating lights with the topograhical represntation of glowing stalactites.

The installation at working level before it was hoisted overhead.

Walking under the lighted sticks, I found concentric patterns that made for an interesting shot.

A photo taken on slow shutter speed while zooming in on the lights.

Another zoom out shot of the installation at 1 second shutter speed with the Panasonic Lumix GF3.

Parmenides 1 by Dev Harlan (USA)

i Light Marina Bay saw a maverick of techniques in harnessing the artistic of light. One of my favourites was the hypnotic and mesmerising installation by Dev Harlan. I’m in the experiential media industry that concerns itself with creating an all encompassing digital-cum-tactile experience for visitors, so I can appreciate the technical difficulties what Parmenides 1 needed to overcome in order to reach the visual effect it achieved.

Dev giving an insight into his highly mathetical piece. Parmenides is the name of an ancient Greek philosopher who excelled in logic and a mathematical quantification of the world.

Dev at work in aligning his projection on the 120 surfaces of the Parmenides lantern.

Mapping and alignment of the projections on the multi-faceted structure take a lot of patience.

Bleeding of misaligned projection.

The finished work. So psychedelic!

Zoomed in effect of Parmenides during its black-n-white projection sequence.

Zoom in effect with Panasonic Lumix GF3 of Parmenides during its colour wave sequence.

Parmenides in one of its many geometric incantations.

Sweet Home by Aleksandra Stratimirovic (Sweden)

Diabetics, be forewarned. Looking at photos in this section may cause an insulin surge. Sweet Home by Aleksandra is eyecandy on a large scale. Driven by a desire to turn unsightly places into beauty queens, the Swedish artist had given many places the touch of her saccharine makeover.

Aleksandra sharing her previous works during a meet-the-artists session.

Before the pieces were assembled to invoke a feeling of home under the sitting gallery at The Float @ Marina Bay.

Don't they just look like giant candy-striped jawbreakers?

Or raspberry / strawberry rippled marshmallows?

A swirl of homely charms gives the installation the feeling of walking into a movie set.

A hint of Eastern.

A pet of Western.

The finished Sweet Home installation. Turning a pedestrian space into a welcoming place.

An outdoor IKEA show decor? Lots of people love posing with the furnishings. Definitely an ideal spot to hold a party!

Key Frames by Groupe LAPS (France)

Reinterpreting the pastime of animating stick figures with flipbook sketches, Key Frames used the dark of night as its canvas to create a tactile playground for over 50 stick people made of LED light tubes. Accompanied by a light-hearted soundtrack, the figures take on life and action to excite the senses!

The hands of god creating man?

Olivier putting the veins together to make sure the figures get their electric blood.

The completed Key Frames installation fighting to stand out from the Central Business District lightscape.

Key Frames viewed in the direction of the Singapore Flyer's wheel.

Playful lights framed against the gorgeous Marina Bay Sands and Art Science Museum.

Immersion by Martin Bevz and Kathryn Clifton (Australia)

When I first saw Immersion, it looked like a tele-portal that will be activated by the command, “Beam me up, Scotty!” Resembling a vertical fountain frozen in motion, the installation changes colours in response to motion. Walk around it and the 8m-wide semi-circle of light will throw out a variation of hues and colours.

This photographer so hardworking! He was photographing the installation even though it was raining. Which, ahem, speaks about how 'hardworking' I am too at photographing him capturing the lights under the rain.

I came another day to photograph Immersion and it was again raining. But I think the wet floor made the installation more interesting by acting as a muted mirror that reflects the lights.

Zoom effect of Immersion.

Took the zoom shots on handheld with the Panasonic GF3. Suddenly the light sticks take on a different life.

Panning shot of Immersion. It can be quite boring just taking photos of the stationary lighted tubes so try some light painting. This installation is totally built for that!

MEGAPOV by Teddy Lo (Hong Kong)

With MEGAPOV, there’s more than meets the eye. What looks like a stick of pulsing LED lights actually hid a variety of images when viewed by moving one’s head from side-to-side. I saw quite a number of people shaking their headings violently to see the images. I was in stitches seeing how comical they looked.

I joined it too. But soon found out there’s a better way to appreciate the work. Through the lens of the camera. Here’s how…

A stick of flickering LED lights beguiles a collection of images that required a special technique to reveal them.

To see the images, I set the Panasonic Lumix GF3 to Shutter-Priority mode and panned it to shoot. I tried a couple of speed setting but found that 1/2 seconds was the best with this camera.

King of Spades at Marina Bay Sands Casino... Huat ah!!

Well, that’s all on the collection of works in this inside-outside take on the installations. This is just a skim of the works and the best is to go down to the bay and check them out yourselves. I’ll post about more works soon. Lights out for now 🙂

i Light Marina Bay 2012 Official Launch

The anticipation is over… i Light Marina Bay 2012 was officially switched on yesterday with a bevy of light art all ready to dazzle, sparkle and shine!

This post captures the happenings during the launch event, some of the installations I came across that evening and the fun I had camwhoring with the works of art 🙂

i Light Marina Bay 2012 is in full bloom! Catch this installation titled 'Planting Shadows' and many others along the perimeter of Marina Bay from now till 1 Apr 2012.

This is Jerrald, one of the many student volunteer guides from Temasek Polytechnic who will help visitors appreciate the inspiration behind an installation. I was so impressed by Jerrald's initiative in approaching me to share information about Planting Shadows when he saw me taking photos it. Thumbs up!

Yeah, it's time to take out the camera to go photo farming at i Light 2012...

Planting Shadows is by a group of five Singaporean artists who call themselves, Vertical Submarine. So why are the sunflowers grey? The inspiration behind this piece is a poem by local writer Chien Swee-Teng (hmm… is this where the artists got their moniker from? Chien Swee-Teng in Chinese sounds like ‘潜水艇’, which means ‘submarine’!).

The poem tells the tale of a sunflower plantation owner who made a pact with an imp who lives in an empty sunflower oil bottle. In exchange for prosperity and success of his sunflower business, the owner must give up his ability to see colour. Kinda like the Little Mermaid giving up her voice to become human.

But more than just a physical realisation of the story, Planting Shadows invites visitors to appreciate the beautiful form and shape of sunflowers without the interference of colour. However, there’s a twist to this piece. During night fall, the flowers light up to create a visual harvest. I’m not putting up the afterdark shot of this installation so that you can come visit the exhibit and experience the poetic aura yourself! Heh heh…

Light Meets Asia

Happening once every two years, this is part duex of i Light Marina Bay after a successful run in 2010. The theme for this sophomore edition is ‘Light Meets Asia’ and it brings together light artists and designers from 17 countries and territories. The festival features around 30 installations, of which 22 are by artists and designers based in Asia.

The launch was held at The Promontory @ Marina Bay on 9 Apr 2012, 7pm.

Junk Jam drumming up a tune for sustainability with drums made from discarded tin cans and plastic barrels.

E.T. would be jealous of his multiple lighted fingers. Let the healing powers of light fill you this March at Marina Bay!

A tall-order of fun with masquerade LED stilt walkers on parade.

Catch them on weekends during the festival period from 7:30 - 8:30pm.

Sass in the city. LED twirlers will be spinning up a wave of lights on weekends during the 3-week festival.

Always a gem... with the zany Juliana all decked out in another one of her eye-pooping fashion creations and the blogger who's on everyone's invite list, Hong Peng.

Energy-saving lights. i Light Marina Bay is not just about beautifying our cityscape with illuminated art but also to raise awareness about environmentally-friendly practices for a sustainable future.

Guest-of-honour - Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Minister for Manpower, urned on i Light. His short speech was peppered with humour especially the part about him being perfect to launch i Light because his darker skin is light absorbing. LOL! Not so funny was his bodyguard though.

Artists, curators, Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) team, and festival partners... The people who put the 'i' in i Light.

A photo with the festival's appointed bloggers, photographers, and Festival Director, Mary-Anne Kyriakou (the beautiful mom-to-be).

With photography maestro, Calvin Huang. I learnt a trick from him last night. To have your face looking slim in a photo, always angle the body to the side and turn to face the camera. Picturesque waterfront setting with great-looking light art, i Light Marina Bay is glowing with photo opportunities.

Create a light spectacle of your own with glow sticks, torches and finger lights purchasable near the Breeze Shelter a short distance from The Promontory @ Marina Bay. A set of 4 finger lights costs S$5.00.

After the launch ceremony and reception with gorgeous pizzas by Verve Pizza Bar @ Marina Bay, I was in the mood for some sleuthing. I think one of the thrills of coming to i Light is looking for the artworks. They are not hard to find, but there’s a “ah-ha” moment when I finally encounter them.

I’ve seen photos and read briefs about the works so seeing them upclose triggered a sense of familiarity in me, like meeting someone you’ve befriended online for the first time.

Bibigloo by BIBI (France)

Imparting a chill factor to the bay is Bibigloo by French artist, BIBI. Assembled with 250 recycled plastic jerry cans, the work aims to draw focus on global warming issues and the melting polar caps.

I wonder... if I slept in Bibigloo, would I have a Dream of the Red Ice Kachang (红豆梦 instead of 红楼梦)?

iTouch at i Light. Many of the exhibits encourage visitors to interact with them.

A peek into Bibigloo.

The Gate by Li Hui (China)

Walking along The Promontory stretch of Marina Bay, I noticed a shimmering red burn emanating from Marina Bay City Gallery in the distance. The flashy glare demands attention and announces the exhibit it comes from before I was even close. That’s The Gate by Chinese artist, Li Hui, a masculine piece that hallmarks the role of gates as portals that connects one realm to another.

Li Hui presenting his i Light inspiration to Singapore. His works are imbued with high concept ideas executed with the use of innovative exhibitory techniques.

This shot of The Gate's laser projection was shot near the Breeze Shelter, which I estimate to be about 200m from the Marina Bay City Gallery where the piece is housed.

Light has the ability to expand an installation's presence much larger than the artworks themselves.

Enter a whole new dimension of art appreciation through The Gate.

Visitors become a work of art themselves when passing through The Gate.

Illumination Disorders II by Tay Swee Siong (Singapore)

Outside the Marina Bay City Gallery stands a beautiful mess. Composed of discarded materials, Singaporean sculptor Tay Swee Siong gave the trash a second life with this whimsical sculpture that lights up in response to voices.

If you need someone to talk to and respond to you, this is your piece!

Who's the garbage here with such a trashy pose?

BioShell by Shinya Okuda (Japan / Singapore)

Departing Marina Bay City Gallery, I walked further along the bay in the direction of Marina Bay Sands. That was when my path was crossed by these two ‘things’…

Crouching Cougar Hidden Skeleton? Kungfu by the bay or escaped zombies from a bio hazard zone?

IMO, the best way to enjoy i Light and Marina Bay is to get a friends who are uninhibited in front of the camera, feed them with alcohol and start clicking away. Calvin and Juliana were so spontaneous, the Panasonic Lumix GF3 that I was using to shoot had a field day!

Now back to this next exhibit… BioShell by Shinya Okuda. With Calvin and Juliana in their wild state, the installation sure comes in handy to have them stored away!

BioShell is a lightweight temporary shelter illuminated purely by LED lights,

'Wildlife' contained but the infection of fun continues to spread with their quirkiness. Naise!

The fully biodegradable disaster shelter was adorned with stickers on 11 Mar to commemorate the massive Japan earthquake that caused a meltdown of the country's Fukushima power plant a year ago.

The Light Dam by Uno Lai (Taiwan)

I shared in my i Light Sneak Peek post I’ll talk more about the inspiratino behind this piece as old to me by the artist himself, Uno Lai. According to him, this installation is partly self-sustaining as 30% of the light is recycled.

How does it work? Uno has installed small solar chips into each of the cubes that capture energy generated from the lights. The stored energy is in turn reused to power the lights, creating a self-sufficient installation.

Currently, the installation is only able to capture 30% of the light energy for reuse. Ideally, according to Uno, the chip could also capture sunlight for energy so that the artwork would require no external power source. 30% or 100%, this prototype is a clever idea nonetheless!

Uno explained that when visitors put their hands into the holes, the light in the cube will dim slightly because the energy-capturing sensor is being blocked.

I'm no light technician. All I know is that The Light Dam makes a uber cool backdrop for a photoshoot. With this act-cute pose, I was afraid I would short-circuit the installation.

No, no... I'm not having a manicure or getting electrocuted. The reason for my expression as I put my hands through the holes was because... (see next photo)

... this was waiting at the other end.

Hope you had fun looking at the photos and found inspiration in the featured installations in this post. I’ll share more of the works when I get to visit and shoot them in the upcoming weeks.

Meanwhile, make a date with i Light Marina Bay and create your own artful memories 🙂 Below is a map of the festival with all the locations of the installations marked out. For a larger version of the map, click here.

Festival Info :

Duration : 9 Mar – 1 Apr 2012

Operating Hours : 7:30 – 11:00pm nightly

Admission : Free

Click here for i Light Marina Bay 2012 Official Website

Day 066 : i Light Marina Bay Sneak Peek

i Light Marina Bay 2012 doesn’t happen till this Friday (9 Mar) but I was eager-eyed to get a peek. So armed with the Panasonic Lumix GF3, I made a trip down to the bay after work in the hope of catching the artists in action as they set up their pieces and finding out their inspirations in person.

Unfortunately, most of them were busy assembling their exhibits and I didn’t want to be a bother. Furthermore, some of the artists and I have a chicken-and-duck thing going… we don’t speak the same language. i Light 2012 features light-art from prolific regional light artists as well as those from Australia, China, France, Japan, Portugal, Sweden, and USA. Such a feast for the eyes!

And here’s a sneak behind-the-scenes peek at some of the installations that will turn Marina Bay into a lighted playground for all!

Putting the light festival together requires the efforts of many.

This installation is titled Storybox. It explores the role of light in inspiring and shaping our urban landscape.

Titled Receptacle, this installation reminds me of a relaxing beachfront spa pavilion.

Her name is Oar and she's the assistant of Thai lighting maestro, Be Takerng Pattanopas. Titled Gap the Mind, these lighted cocoon lanterns allow you to step inside and experience a meditative state with music and lights.

The installation brings a sense of Zen to Marina Bay, a great lunchtime respite for busy executives in the Central Business District area.

Something massive is coming out of the water... its a giant 5QU1D! Yup, it's spelt 5QU1D to represent the Singaporean artist's interpretation of nature's fusion with urbanisation. The light sculpture is aptly placed in front of commemorative Olympic rings... an allusion to calamari rings perhaps? LOL.

The monster has yet to come alive. I'm curious how 5QU1D will look when it's completed.

BioShell. This piece looked like an inflatable HASMAT capsule or a floatation sphere ready to go into the bay waters!

Hands off the exhibits for now until the official launch this Friday. By then, these lighted installations will welcome everyone to interact with them.

This is one of the hottest light artists in Taiwan, Uno Lai. His piece, The Light Dam, has both an aspirational and functional approach to light as a self-sustaining energy source.

Uno shared with me his thoughts about setting up The Light Dam which I will post once I get a photo of his finished work.

Fancy / Lightweight is the name of this exhibit that brings to life those computer screensaver line graphics. I strummed the strings and shot with a slower shutter speed to get this 'laser' effect. I think the organisers will frown that I'm sharing my 'abuse' of art to create art. Heh heh. Try it. It's fun!

Acrylic popsicles of Crystallised. From this work on, I've arrived at The Float. The installations are lined all around Marina Bay so it's a journey of discovery along the waterfront alcove.

Love the alien-geometric form of Parmenides 1. It requires precision projection on the rubix-like sculpture which involves a lot of tweaking and adjustments to the projectors. While I was there, the artist was engrossed in perfecting the mapping of videos on the pointy sphere.

Forming and dissolving, the sculpture takes on different skins and looks with mesmerising effect!

An assembly of candy-striped lampshades... something sweet is coming your way. Sweet Home that is. The lighting project aims to turn ugly spaces into pretty places.

Titled Key Frames, this installation features a collection of lighted figures in various poses. So fun to see what I usually draw on paper to represent human, the stick figures, in 3D!

This is Olivier fixing the power to light up the stick figures. I tried to explain I'm an official blogger for iLight and if he could stretch out his hand for me to pose for a pic but he just looked at me blankly. I hope he had dinner for working so tirelessly though.

Even though I just popped by to have a quick browse, I ended up spending 3 hours at i Light and I didn’t see everything. So if you’re planning to visit, plan for repeats in order to see all the works. And if you’re into photography, the best times to come would be during week nights as human traffic is less congested. But then, perhaps the bay will be busy once all the pieces are up.

I hope this behind-the-scene look will excite and open up a personal level for you when enjoying the works. This is just the beginning… 🙂

Day 062 : i Light Marina Bay Official Blogger

From 9 March to 1 April 2012, Marina Bay Singapore will be transformed into a massive outdoor light gallery with 30 innovative installations that explore the world we live in through iLight, Asia’s first and only sustainable light art festival.

And I have the privilege of being invited to be the event’s official blogger! That means I’m officially the unofficial eyes, ears and mouth for the 3-week festival at the bay area with special access to activities, events, artists and programmes.

So get ready for a delightful March as I try to capture great shots of the exhibits, the inspirations behind them, and share tips to best enjoy this carnival of lights!

Flower Dome and World Orchid Show

Okay, it’s not very macho to admit this, but I love flowers.

They represent the ‘enlightenment’ that a plant achieves. After going through periods of rain and sunshine, the plant reaches a certain point in maturation and one day, colours and fragrance burst forth. 

Much like the blossoming of our innermost human consciousness. When we reach a threshold of self-awareness and can be at peace with all that is within and around us, we bloom.

A bridge on Level 4 of Marina Bay Sands links directly to Gardens by the Bay. The scenic walk provided a nice transition from urban livin' to nature lovin'.

So when I received an invitation to attend the preview of the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay in conjunction with the 20th Orchid Conference, I had a bee to honey moment.

The media event was supposed to be on 13 Nov but I was running a temperature and missed it. Thankfully, an additional invitation allowed me to visit the dome and conference between 14 – 20 Nov so I made my way down during my off day yesterday. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good day to go. The sky was overcast.

Glad I had the Casio Exilim ZR100 with me. Using the HDR-Art mode, I was able to capture colours on an otherwise very muted shot due to the dull weather.

However, as the Flower Dome received visitors only during that 1 week period as a preview ahead of the Gardens by the Bay official June 2012 launch, I was determined to get the best out of my visit come rain or shine. It’ll be a challenge to get nice shots that day, which was a perfect opportunity to test out the new Casio Exilim ZR100 (EX-ZR100). I brought along my DSLR so you’ll see photos from both cameras.

Pictures with a thin black frame around them are taken with the EX-ZR100.

Awaiting full bloom. Gardens by the Bay is Singapore's new approach to greening the city with environmentally-friendly technology and sustainable resource management.

The above few photos were taken with EX-ZR100’s HDR and HDR-Art modes. I tried taking those shots with my DSLR but the colours were very bland and the subtle presence of clouds were lost, making the sky look white-washed.

So for anyone who thinks that the bigger the camera the better the photos, well, that’s not always true.

Inside the air-conditioned Flower Dome... the plants all so hoh mia (good life)! The conservatory replicates the cool-dry climate of the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions like South Africa and parts of Europe such as Spain and Italy.

Consisting of several ethnic-themed gardens by the southern coast of the Marina Bay area,  the sprawling horticultural development will showcase flora and fauna from different continents of the world except Antartica.

Around 226.000 plants are expected to be featured when the project is complete. I’m sure it’ll become a photography hotspot.

Love the dome design and architecture. The lines form such a dramatic webbed background when shot with fisheye. Just from the looks of the Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay is already on my super like list!

Was greeted by a row of red gerberas upon entering the dome. Shot with EX-ZR100's HDR-Art mode.

Also shot with the HDR-Art mode, this albino gerbera turned out yellow! Interesting.

The essential "I was in the Flower Dome" shot.

I used to be crazy about orchids for a while and would spend hours visiting the Thomson Road stretch of nurseries. I even attended a course on orchid cultivation and indoor gardening by NParks.

Unfortunately, my heart may be green, but my fingers are not. Many orchids withered in my care no matter how much attention or nitrate fertilisers I fed them. Maybe they got smothered by my over-zealousness. I even managed to kill a couple of common dendrobiums, the hardiest of orchid species. Think I should just see and don’t touch!

Name of Orchid : Renanthera 20th WOC Singapore 2011. The flaming red blossom was the official flower of the 20th World Orchid Conference. It was polinated in August 2003 (Renanthera Bangkok Flame + Renanthera Klsom) and first flowered in June 2005. That's the fun thing with orchids, different species can be spliced to get new ones.

My favourite species... lady slipper orchids (Paphiopedilum)! This specimen has such vibrant, bewitching colours. During a garden festival at Dempsey many years ago, I bought a jade green slipper orchid for S$60! The flower lasted for about 3 weeks. After that, I didn't manage to get it to flower again and it died of root rot.

Cymbidium Chen's Ruby 'ORCHIS'.

Another shot of the Ruby 'ORCHIS' taken in HDR-Art mode. Such radically different colour results from the original. So cool!

Close-up of a giant phalaenopsis' lip in HDR-Art mode. Can you see a face with raised arms? Looks rather comical don't you think?

The wide sepals of the white Phalaenopsis has this aura of virginal purity around it. I'm used to seeing Phal sprays with several flowers but not this single bloomer.

The dancing lady orchid (Oncidium) on steroids! These big florets have the sultry allure of a yellow-skirted flamenco dancer.

Forgot to get the name of this orchid species because I was so enthralled by the patterning and colours saturated by the HDR-Art mode.

So heartwarming to see everyone enjoying the flowers. There was this couple who asked me to take a photo for them. I think the husband suffers from cerebal palsy coz he couldn't walk very well and very slow. But his wife was patiently guiding him to stand next to her for their portrait. I was so touched.

After the Flower Dome, I took the 10-minutes walk to cross over to Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre for the 20th World Orchid Conference’s World Orchid Show. First thing that struck me was… so many people! I wonder if I would find my little piece of paradise in the crowd. 

The conference was a massive gathering of orchid societies all over the globe showcasing their native species, winning breeds, as well as floral art culminating as the World Orchid Show. I’ve never seen so many real orchids at one place in my life.

Orchid-laced corridor leading to the exhibition halls. Very grand indeed.

A triennial international event, this year's conference also heralded the largest orchid show in Singapore featuring over 75 decorative floral installations.

I think this is a Vanda orchid. With so many hybrids crossing the distinctive properties of various parentage, it can sometimes be confusing trying to identify an orchid species just by its flower alone.

Champion of the floral display at the World Orchid Show.

The show was a platform for countries to show off their creativity with all things floral. These were entrants for the best table floral arrangement competition.

Inspiration for Lady Gaga's next fashion fantasy?


Love the gorgeously rich velvet hues on this slipper orchid. 'Orchid' comes from the ancient Greek word 'orkhis'. It means testicle. Doesn't this orchid's pouch remind you of something other than a lady's slipper?

Before the orchid show, I didn't know there are so many different species of slipper orchids. I was over-stimulated and had the urge to buy one home. But I know my housing condition isn't suitable for growing the slippers as they are rather fussy.

Sprays of pure yellow dancing lady orchids without the species trademark spots and markings on its petals and lip.

Look how small these papery purple orchids are!

This orchid feels so retro-groovy. I thought it was fake initially.

First time seeing more than one slipper orchid on a peduncle.

This orchid looks so bizarre! It won the Gold Medal Award and Best Bulbophyllinae Award.

Wanted to take an underside photo of this strange orchid that resembles a green squid with snake skin but it was placed close to the ground. I couldn't go any lower with my DSLR so I shot it with EX-ZR100's Super Macro mode. A compact camera really comes in handy to capture odd angles. But most importantly, it must be able to take decent shots or the effort at framing from an uncomfortable perspective will be wasted.

HDR-Art of liliac-coloured Phals. So psychedelic!

I spent about half a day taking in the sights at Flower Dome and the orchid show. I wished I had more time but I had a dinner appointment and my eyes were getting all flowery.

Really glad I made it before the show was over. I must say that the orchid show was well organised and I super like what I saw at Gardens by the Bay. Can’t wait for it to be completed.

EX-ZR100 Night Landscape mode.

As I departed Marina Bay Sands, I was greeted by the dusking skyline of Marina Bay. Oh, how beautiful it looked in that evening blue!

Like a flower that is the enlightenment of Singapore.

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