It has been a few years running and the main theme remains the same for iLight Marina Bay, and that is art in sustainable energy. I’ll be honest about being skeptical at how turning on a bunch of lights become a practice in sustainability when we are asked to turn off the lights during Earth Hour. But then again, it may make sense if we actually try and understand the different displays. And now should be a good time as any other time to do this.
Surprisingly, it was not so crowded the night we came to the festival. It may have been due to the rain earlier or we could be missing out on something. I really hope it was the former.
We started off from Marina Bay Sands The Shoppes where I met up with Judy and Matthew for dinner. We were greeted by the Octopoda when we stepped out of The Shoppes. However, Matthew was not interested in the rythmic drumming that Octopoda was offering. Walking along the boardwalk, we were supposed to go through the Passage but it was under maintenance. I needed to remind myself that it had just rained and we were talking about lights that are powered by electricity, so, safety first. As we continued along the boardwalk, we ended up at Light Play. A supposedly interactive installation that asks you to use a torch to get a reaction from the display. However, we never got it to work and no interaction with the people around us happened that night. Let’s not forget the side trip to the MADD flea market (which was an exercise in restraint from buying fantastic home-grown goodies that you may or may not actually need).
Turning towards the Promontory, we passed through some Klouds. It is another interactive installation where Geomag like clouds change colors when touched, tapped or otherwise banged on. We then gandered at some Chandelier of Spirits, well, cold brew coffee spirits. These brown bottles were turned into giant chandeliers giving off a soft amber hue in the night. We ended up at the MailboX where we sent some interactive emojis via Twitter with the hashtag #ilightmarinabay. It was actually fun seeing your message shown at the MailboX. Whareatua was not what we expected (because really, we expected more) so let’s just leave it at that. We continued walking around the Marina Bay area going towards The Esplanade where the rest of the installation should be. We realised that there did not seem to be as much as before (or the installations have become smaller) but at the same time, having less crowds make it a better experience overall. And you also realise how tiring it is walking around the bay which brings us to a pit stop at Starbucks.
Moving along after a perk-me-upper, we listened to the pulse of the city from the installation With Love… It was actually neat to see how the red glow from this heart illuminates the night, especially the façade of The Fullerton Hotel. The heart trail brings us to the Merlion which has become an installation called the Elements of Life. The projections over the Merlion were absolutely gorgeous showing the elements of earth, fire, water and air making it the base for the present and the future. Across the bridge then down towards the Esplanade area, we hit Transistable Plastic. It basically allows you to swim in plastic waste like some of our endangered sea creatures in a maze of vacuum packed plastic bottles. This however, paved the way towards Urban Rice Fields which is supposed to have been inspired by Singapore’s sustainable development. You really need to turn on your camera flash to get the full effect. Dancing Grass is just beyond this installation, where you shrink to the size of ants walking along blades of lit grass in the night. The night was turning late though so we were soon finding our way back to the MRT to go home.
But not before we were invited to see Flawless where the word is photoluminescence. The installation supposedly absorbs light energy in the day giving them the bright green glow at night. Unfortunately, we were looking at UV lit “falling leaves” here. We were about to call it quits when we were then mooved to have a look at some cows in the middle of the city. Milk Bottle Cows. It does promote recycling and up-cycling of everyday materials such as used milk bottles and they were kind of cute. We ended the night with a slow walk towards the train station to go home.
Going back to my initial thought, there wasn’t really any sustainability in the installations by any measurable means. The thought is there, or I should say that the message is there but it certainly does not show with all the pretty lights blazing across the bay. So, the art is there and the message is there, but the sustainability part needs to be worked on because honestly, it is the message that needs to be conveyed. Come for the art and appreciate the lights, but when you come home, remember that sustainability really should begin with each of us.