10 must-see highlights from the Marina Bay light festival

‘Firefly Field’ by Toer. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts
‘Firefly Field’ by Toer. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

After going dim several years, Singapore’s lighting extravaganza is back with more than enough lights to pave visitors’ way.

Marina Bay was the focal point for the return of the “I Light Singapore” festival with 20 light art installations by 57 artists illuminated at 7:30pm every day now through June 26.

“From thought-provoking artworks to immersive programmes that encourage sustainable habits, i Light Singapore will once again illuminate Marina Bay with a kaleidoscope of colors through the works of some of the most creative minds in Singapore and beyond. We look forward to welcoming visitors back to this much-anticipated Festival after a two-year hiatus,” Festival Director Jason Chen said.

The eighth edition is presented by DBS Bank with a focus on sparking conversations on environmental sustainability. 

Works by artists from 14 different countries are spread across the edge of the reservoir, eating slightly into Esplanade Park. The thematic color is violet, which has the shortest wavelength but the most powerful electromagnetic energy in the visible light spectrum.

Beside the light installations, there are also educational talks and workshops about – you guessed it – light. Or, find out if you’re a drone master by racing some robotic machines with professionals on the Marina Bay lawn.

There is also GastroBeats, which occupies the entire 14,200sqm open-air area of the Bayfront Event Space. It has food booths, a music stage, and a cordoned-off area for plenty of bouncy castles at an added price on top of the S$9 entrance fee

The lights will go off at 11pm except for Friday and Saturday, when they will be extended one hour. Admission is free for all but one installation.

Here are the 10 sights we think are most worthy: 

The festival map. Photo: I Light Singapore

Firefly Field (Location 11)

‘Firefly Field’ by Toer. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

Over at The Promontory, witness 500 lights resembling fireflies dance in the night. Created by Netherlands studio Toer, the rhythm mimics the intermittent flashing pattern of fireflies which sends signals to locate potential mates.

Fallen (Location 12)

‘Fallen’ by Nerdist x Artina. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

You won’t miss the giant illuminated jellyfish by a Korean team next to One Marina Boulevard. Its backstory follows an ethereal jellyfish that bit a heap of trash which resembled a twinkling star and crash-landed on Earth. 

Re-Act (Location 16)

‘Re-Act’ by Liang TaiLin and Isabella Meo Loo Yanshan. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

Down on the Queen Elizabeth Walk waterfront steps is a blazing installation by NUS architecture students. Again, don’t be fooled by its beauty. The series of lights symbolizes water pollutants such as untreated sewage trickling down the steps. Also, it signifies the cracks of collapsing icebergs caused by climate change.

Collective Memory (Location 8)

‘Collective Memory’ by LiteWerkz. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

At the Marina Boulevard stretch are sea nets of CDs by Singapore University of Technology and Design graduates. It honors the evolution of digital storage and reflects a shimmering landscape of CDs that were once widely used. 

Alone Together (Location 7)

‘Alone Together’ by Ping Lim and Ian Grossberg. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

Not too far away is an amalgamation of moving visuals of what we were probably up to being isolated at home during the pandemic. The colorful artwork, done by local creative Ping Lim and creative technologist Ian Grossberg, models scenes from Singaporean homes and proves that we are all the same.

Swans (Location 13)

‘Swans’ by Marco Barotti. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

In a small pond at the OUE Tower is a flock of upcycled satellite dishes that resemble swans. The electronic birds have speakers as heads that emit swan sounds and float gracefully on the water.

Motherearth ClimateChange Data Sculpture (Location 1)

‘Motherearth ClimateChange Data Sculpture’ by Turkish studio Ouchhh. Photo: I Light Singapore

At the ArtScience Museum, video projections by Turkish new media studio Ouchhh are cast on the facade. From far, viewers will be able to see moving lights, colors and sounds that translate to local weather and environmental data.

Plastic Whale (Location 2)

‘Plastic Whale’ by Craig Neo, Feng Qiao, Liao Qingshuang and Li Jianwen. Photo: I Light Singapore

At the MBS Event Plaza, one of many inflatables put up a the festival is a life-size but lifeless whale stuffed with recyclable plastic bottles and scraps. Local artist Craig Neo, and Chinese artists Feng Qiao, Liao Qingshuang and Li Jianwen hope to scare people straight and convey the depravity of struggling marine creatures affected by our polluted wastes.

Eyes of the Sea (Location 4)

‘Eyes of the Sea’ by Team Panorama from Temasek Polytechnic. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

A stroll to the Lower Boardwalk is something that might look pretty at first glance but it really shows the ugly truth of plastic waste accumulating in oceans. The Temasek Polytechnic grads who make up Team Panorama handmade this with ironed-out discarded plastic bottles. Its shadow resembles waves, which might look mesmerizing on the surface but are masked by pollution underneath. 

Light Canvas (Location 6)

‘Light Canvas’ by Trial & Error. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

Further up at the Red Dot Design Museum is an installation that you can join in on. Local artist group Trial & Error invites visitors to draw with light pens or use phone flashlights on blank canvases. If you’re lucky you can spot dancers, calligraphers, illustrators and florists making their mark. But there’s more to this. The short-lived “ink” sparks questions on whether our actions are worth the environmental damage. 

BONUSLightwave: Isle of Light

On the Marina Bay Lower Boardwalk near the Red Dot Design Museum is an exclusive area by OPPO with five zones to interact with. For S$8 on weekdays and S$10 on weekends, visitors can expect to be blinded by holographic projections, illuminated motion-capture graphics, shadow play, light beams, and a light art showcase.

‘Lightwave: Isle of Light’ by Oppo. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

‘Lightwave: Isle of Light’ by Oppo. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

‘Lightwave: Isle of Light’ by Oppo. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

‘Lightwave: Isle of Light’ by Oppo. Photo: Carolyn Teo/Coconuts

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