Saturday, September 29, 2012

Night Festival 2012

When it's night time, what do you usually do? Sleep? Have dinner with your family? Working late? Well, in late August, I went to the Night Festival at the Bras Basah Bugis area to check out all the various artworks and light installations available. The Night Festival is a yearly festival related to arts and multimedia and a huge array of performances, installations and events were held at night on the 24th to the 25th of August. It also happened on 31st August and the 1st of September. It's a free event and there's something for everyone. During the Night Festival, selected museums were opened till 2am like the National Museum and the Singapore Art Museum.

Getting there was easy. All I have to do is to just take the MRT all the way to Bras Basah MRT Station which was near the place where events were taking place. In fact, various places were selected to hold the event like the National Museum, Singapore Art Museum, School of the Arts and so much more. The first thing I saw was this performance at the park near the Singapore Management University. There was a live performance by a Singaporean singer-songwriter known as Natalie Hiong who performed songs with elements of jazz and rock. There were a lot people watching so it was difficult for me to take a proper picture. Anyway, the performance was great and some of her songs were nice to listen to.

After watching that great performance, it's time to move on and check out the next part of the festival. I watched this interesting 3D projection mapping installation that was happening on the exterior of the iconic National Museum building. It's just like the projector in the office when presentations are happening but this is a little bit different. Instead of a blank 2D canvas, this installation makes full use of the exterior and it takes the shape of the exterior. It will make it look as if the museum itself is moving and very animated. If you still don't know what I am talking about, search for "3D Projection Mapping" on YouTube and you'll know what I mean. I can't fully remember what video they showed though so I can't talk about that. Still, it was cool to see the National Museum being fully animated at night.

The 3D Projection Mapping installation also happened at the Singapore Art Museum. Just like the one at the National Museum, there was a huge 3D projector showing a series of animations using the exterior of the museum. The whole exterior was animated and it looked as if the museum was alive and moving.

Here is another installation that was interesting. It's a video wall of a group of fishes in a fish tank at SAM @ 8Q which is an extension to the existing Singapore Art Museum located along Queen Street. The installation is called Fish Tank No.8 by artist Stephane Masson. Basically, it's a video of someone filling an empty tank with water and a group of fishes was seen swimming around. After some time, the water was drained out after pulling a stopper and all the fishes were also drained out. I don't want to imagine what happened to those fishes after being drained out. Anyway, it was an interesting video and the video wall made it look like a giant virtual aquarium.

Also at SAM @ 8Q was this installation titled as Night Watch by Wokmedia. These are just a bunch of balloons or plastic balls that replicated the eyes of animals like birds, fishes and reptiles. It was really cool and you can see the variety of shapes and colours of the iris. They looked like they were staring into the skies and they were a little bit creepy when I first saw it. There is a message behind this installation although I can't really understand so sorry for being unable to explain what this is about.

Before heading back to the regular Singapore Art Museum, I saw this cool table tennis table at the entrance of SAM @ 8Q. A group of people was seen playing friendly matches of table tennis and if you notice, the table is not the regular table tennis table. If you look carefully, it's round. The people who were playing around the round table looked like regular people but I was unsure where they got the paddles and balls from. I was also unsure whether or not it's a requirement to pay before playing. Anyways, it caught my attention and I hope there will be more tables like this to encourage people to play table tennis. By the way, this installation is not part of the Night Festival. I showed this because it was rather cool.

Back at the Singapore Art Museum, I went to the courtyard and saw these amazing structures. Made by an artist called Stephane Blanquet, the installation is called Distorted Forest. Basically, they are just structures that looked like forests but a little bit distorted and there was a light source shining towards the structures. The light source made the structures come alive because it was moving and the shadows of the structures also moved to the light. Although the structures were stationary, the shadows moved making the forest 'distorted'. It was really cool and you have to see it in person to get an idea of what I was talking about. It was actually adopted from this technique called Shadow Play which was an old Chinese technique.

Right at the Glass House in the Singapore Art Museum, a video was showing in front of several seated and standing visitors. It was a video titled Towards The Complex - For The Courageous, Curious and The Cowards which was really a mouthful. Anyway, the video was part of a memorial project in Vietnam and it shows several Vietnamese people pulling rickshaws underwater. Yes, you heard that right. UNDERWATER. How is it possible? Well, they seem to be able to do it. The whole video was shot underwater and it was quite an interesting short film. Basically, it was about the unique look of post-war history in Vietnam. Sure, showing a video of people pulling rickshaws is boring but it's totally NOT boring when they were underwater. Props to them for being able to pull off such a stunt successfully.

This installation was located outside School of The Arts which is an Arts school located right beside The Cathay.  It's titled Children's Dreams by artist Jerome Donna. Basically, the installation contained lines of LED lights made to look like children's drawings. They were scattered all over the exterior of School of The Arts and there were also speaker systems all over to provide the sounds for the installation. It's pretty amazing and it represents stories of childhood. I'm sure all of us wants to relive our childhood. This installation really reminded me of how great my childhood was.

Lastly, these installations were found at an open space outside The Cathay shopping mall and cinema. I'm not exactly sure what installation was this titled and who created it. All I know was that there were several lamp posts with coloured lights and instead of the usual poles found on ordinary lamp posts, the poles on these installations were bent. It was unique and I wish most of the public lamp post designs looked like these. On the outside of The Cathay was this event called Free Running where several male runners performed creative stunts on obstacles. I saw them vaulting, climbing and jumping around. They may look easy but I can tell you that it's not. It was definitely entertaining but unfortunately, I did not take a photo of them performing the stunts.

The Night Festival was a great event showcasing the creativity of local and international artists to the regular public. You do not have to have great knowledge about the arts to enjoy the Night Festival. There were lots of interactive installations available to check out, several buskers showcasing their talents and free live performances performed by local and international acts at the Bras Basah Bugis area during the Night Festival. I certainly look forward to next year's version of the event. Bring your family to this event next year and enjoy the night together. I'm sure there is something for everyone here at the Night Festival.

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