Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Collection of art installations on display at Marina Bay Sands

SINGAPORE: Mention Marina Bay Sands and the casino comes to mind first. But the integrated resort is also set to leave a lasting impression with a collection of art installations, known as the Art Path.

Enter Marina Bay Sands Hotel and you will be greeted by a wall painting with its striking colours and design.

It's the work of the late artist, Sol LeWitt, who had contributed to many architectural designs by Marina Bay Sands' Moshe Safdie.

Moshe Safdie, design architect, Marina Bay Sands, said: “Public art is exciting because it is site specific. We can commission artists to do work that is part of the architecture.

“Instead of having architecture and art being separate experiences, we integrate it into one seamless experience. It's like medieval times, the gothic cathedral, the stained-glass windows, the scupltures, the architecture - all one thing.”

And that's why the installations are bold, big and somewhat abstract such as the "Drift", a three-dimensional piece made with over 16,000 steel rods suspended some seven floors down.

Antony Gormley, artist, said: "I hope that your curiosity is sort of engaged and you want to explore what it is. And maybe walk around the balconies and really look at this thing and see how the space changes as you move around."

The work known as "Drift" was fabricated off site due to the scale of its structure.

It was subsequently broken down into eight horizontal slices transported to Marina Bay Sands.

As you are walking down the Hotel Atrium, you will be greeted by giant ceramic vessels. Each weighs about 1,200 kilogrammes and stands at three metres tall.

Each also holds up a tree, providing what's said to be a 'canopy' of trees in the interior and exterior area of the hotel atrium."

Over 60 people, including potters and glaze specialists, were roped in to work on these "big vases".

The ceramic pieces were made in Yixing, China, which is known for its artistry and high-quality ceramics since the 11th century.

Each vessel required 15 to 20 days to complete by hand.
The vessels were so large that the artist had to build a customised kiln.

On the whole, the installation named "Rising Forests" will see some 83 vessels occupying approximately 4,000 square metres in the Hotel Atrium.

Artist Zheng Chongbin, srtist, said: "In the beginning stage to build it, it's a difficult process, in terms of the selection of we mix it and how we build it and we go through numerous, countless tests, to build this whole thing on such a large scale.

“The challenge is actually the scale that is actually unprecedented in ceramic history, given the height.

“Number one, you don't have such a kiln to make such pieces. So we have to redesign, alter the kiln to make it workable. That is the first step. Second step is how we fire these, bring out the full beauty of glaze and that's an enormous challenge, given the height, vertical space and the temperature in the kiln.

“There were 50 to 60 people involved. We also work with the master potters, and did many different tests."

The installations are making heads turn.

The installations extend to the blue reflective facade by John Carpenter, illuminating the Integrated Resort's casino building.

Just opposite is a shimmering "Wind Arbor" that extends from across the hotel towers, with a functional twist. It's the largest and most visible piece of the Marina Bay Sands ' Art Path. It covers 6,800 square metres, equivalent to the surface area of five and half Olympic Sized swimming pools.

Ned Kahn, artist, said: "There are 260,000 of these small aluminium pieces on hinges that sway in the wind. They also provide shade. 50 per cent of the sunlight hits the panels and gets the heat gets bounced out instead of increasing the load on the requirements needed on the air-conditioning system.”

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