Living in Electric Dreams

Bringing art to the masses on a massive digital canvas at ION Orchard.

Issue: Jun 2009

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If you happened to be in Singapore over the last few weeks and used the ION Orchard MRT exit you may have noticed a set of colourful blocks combining to form various creations in lights and wondered what these playful and luminous images were all about.

Well, it is one of the first efforts by the developers of ION Orchard to bring art and retail together in a new way. An innovative use of the LED wall panels as a canvas to express people's creative juices, this campaign dubbed Lightropolis was organized by Hewlett Packard (HP) in partnership with ION Orchard. Some of these little pieces of creativity are soon to hit the big screen on the huge façades of ION Orchard, one of Asia's largest LED media walls, after its grand opening, scheduled for July.

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When the call went out for submissions for the groundbreaking HP Lightropolis contest, it included multi-disciplines: animation, engineering, architecture and design. Entrants were not required to be professionals in the four fields, they needed only to live in Singapore and have a desire to create.

To date, almost 300 creative submissions have been received and each is unique. You can take a sneak peak of all the Technicolor entries on the website http://www.hp.com.sg/lightropolis. Between the 21st April and 5th May, selected entries were proudly displayed on the ION Orchard LED walls at the Orchard MRT. The contest comes to a close at the end of May. The winning entries will be decided by a panel of judges including representatives from HP, ION Orchard and the Media Development Authority (MDA).

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The images so far have been as diverse as the people who have submitted them. MRT users have been delighted by images of kids playing, cute animals, different kinds of machinery as well as messages of love and hope, all lighting the way out of the MRT station into the heart of not only Singapore but also Singaporeans, many of whom will be very interested to see the winning entries many metres above the busy street of Orchard Road, when ION Orchard opens in July.

Bright Idea Behind the Lights

"The initial idea for the exhibition in lights was conceived almost a year ago," says Valerie Cheng, Creative Director of Arc Worldwide - the creative team behind HP Lightropolis. Serena Yong, General Manager, Personal Systems Group, HP Singapore, describes the campaign as "A virtual utopia" and added, "Since much of Singapore is a city, we decided to turn the heart of it - Orchard Road - into a giant canvas.

Using city lights as the 'paint', the campaign calls for participants to create the most interesting LED wall display." The MDA has also supported the campaign as part of its Media Fiesta 2009 activities. "HP Lightropolis aims to provide a platform for local talents in the arts and creative industries to not only showcase their creativity," says Yong, "but also show how these creations can be brought to life effectively through digital media." Another key aim of the initiative is to help foster a culture of creativity among the local design community.

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ION Orchard was chosen as the venue, as it is an "iconic" new mall right in the heart of the city, says Yong, and its focus on art and technology is very much in line with the objective of the campaign.

"When we began featuring the works on the LED walls, the submissions truly came to life and lit up the entire underpass with the participants' creative works," says Yong. "The effect was more spectacular than what we had expected - the colourful underpass even became a breathtaking photographic backdrop for curious tourists." She adds that over the course of just a few weeks these works captured the imagination of throngs of ordinary Singaporeans and she hopes that the campaign will inspire them to even greater creative challenges in the future."

More In Store for Art Lovers in the Future

The very first art exhibition of sorts for the new mall began almost a year ago with the display of several colourful prints by local artists last July on the hoardings surrounding the construction site when the mall was still just taking shape. That was the first indication that this will be no ordinary retail space. ION Orchard says it is committed to being a significant contributor to local and international "artscapes" through ION Art, a structured art and design programme that introduces new and multi-media art to the integrated mall experience, while promoting the best of Asian modern and contemporary art and design from established, as well as emerging talents.

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ION Art brings art to the shopper, offering the mall's visitors an opportunity to savour a diverse range of visual arts, including multi-media and digital art.

Described as Singapore's first multi-sensory experiential shopping and lifestyle haven, the more than 660,000- square feet mall is expected to attract over 200,000 shoppers each day. More than 5,600-square feet of the mall is entirely devoted to art and inspiration. Many people have said "art is where you find it."

With the coming opening of ION Orchard, it will be easier then ever to find art for a staggering number of people everyday.

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