Bringing Light to the Night

Singapore’s Night Festival is in full swing, and I am one of its biggest fans. This festival spans multiple neighborhoods and includes light displays, video projections, theater and spoken word performances, interactive art, music, food stalls, and all sorts of unexpected experiences. Last night I wandered into an “illuminated disco” (think lots of body paint and black lights), a courtyard where you could ask someone to write and then sing you a poem, and a field filled with glowing balls.

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The biggest draws of this festival are the “night lights,” giant works of art that come alive after the sun goes down. We started with “The Standing Men,” a piece that mostly looks like a creepy mannequin army in the daytime:

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After 7:30pm, these guys start changing color and — if you stand right in front of them — speaking. This is as strange as it sounds.

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I much prefer this quieter set of pieces, called “Moondreaming”:

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IMG_3642Another peaceful space is “Secrecy” at the Armenian Church:

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There are pieces you can enter, like this Buckminster Fuller-inspired, extravagantly named “The Flower of Life and the Infinite Self”…

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…which had some beautiful spaces inside:

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We also went into “Yantronomy,” a huge kaleidescope with mirrors and painted images:

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But our favorite Night Light by far was “Flock,” an indoor piece where the movements of the participants were captured on a huge screen high overhead. Here, each of the swirly white lights represents someone moving on the floor:IMG_3644

We were also represented as dots walking on a line (I believe I’m in a white dot in the bottom left-hand corner, with my arms in a circle held up to take a picture):

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In “Flock,” light projections were also sent out onto the floor — and if you kicked your legs or swung your arms, you could actually move the projections (I have no idea how this works — it looked like magic). Here’s Prescott throwing the light away from his feet:

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But I spent the most time in front of “Convolutions,” a fascinating, enormous work of lights and lasers and music that played on the facade of the National Museum:

There are lights all over the place at this festival.  You can find them on trees…

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… and on buildings (this is the Peranakan Museum) …

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… and going up stairs:

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Some things feel extremely random, like this giant upside-down carrot:

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On the much smaller (but still random) side, I found several logs with tiny pipe-cleaner creatures:

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There’s music everywhere — and if you search them out, you can find performances of all sorts. Prescott’s improv troupe played three excellent, standing room only sets on Friday night:

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Being out in these neighborhoods gave me a chance to see several buildings that I’ve been meaning to visit. Coming from Baltimore, I’ve been wondering where the synagogues are here, and I finally found one (there are only two). This is Maghain Aboth:

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I also paid my first visit to CHIJMES, a historic complex that started its life as a the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus and now plays host to a bunch of high-end restaurants and shops. The original chapel is still in use as a multipurpose hall, and it is stunning:

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I can’t say enough good things about the Night Festival — I’ve been recommending it to people all week. Aside from the weekend crowds, it’s one of my favorite installations of the year.

 

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