Inspired by a chance encounter with a unique beam of stray sunlight at The Chapel at Sculpture Square, Light Matters is a site-specific and time-based installation made in collaboration with the sun.
The project aspires to compose a visual poem with the splendor of natural light to transform the 19th-century-heritage-building-turned-gallery into a piece of four-dimensional artwork and, in turn, open up a free space of quiet in the middle of a bustling city.
About the Artist
Lim Woan Wen
A nocturnal being with an acute interest in light and darkness, Woan Wen was a recipient of the inaugural National Arts Council Arts Professional Scholarship 2001 and was trained at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in Stage Lighting Design. Also a Theatre Studies graduate from the National University of Singapore, she has lit over 100 theatre, dance and cross-disciplinary projects and has received multiple Best Lighting Design awards at the Straits Times Life! Theatre Awards. She has been Associate Lighting Designer with local theatre company The Finger Players since 2004 and was conferred the Young Artist Award in 2011.
Having spent most of her professional career manipulating artificial light, Light Matters is Woan Wen’s first attempt to work directly with her largest source of inspiration – natural light – as a medium of expression. This is her first independent solo show.
I have watched several theatre productions featuring Woan Wen’s lighting design and the most recent I recalled was during the Hua Yi Festival 2012’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” directed by Nelson Chia. In designing theatre and stage lighting, everything is planned and has to be timely executed on site (stage); everything is designed and controlled. It creates different scenario within the same space, giving audience planned experiences.
When I first saw the title of Woan Wen’s first solo exhibition拾 光 | Light Matters, the Chinese title literally means ‘picking / collecting light’. I was intrigued by the idea of catching light, something that is not tangible.
Woan Wen shared that she first saw the light 6 years ago in Sculpture Square and was very interested to work something on that. 6 years later, the site is still the same, but the light is not. It changes everyday, every seconds. Even though Woan Wen is not able to controlled the lights in this exhibition like the way she designs theatre lighting, she has planned the experience in 3 movements.
Switch off your mobile phone please. Even if you are there from 10am to 1pm, it is only 3 hours without looking at your phone.
I did not quite understand her 3 movements but I entered the chapel, unconsciously and driven by the environment, created my own first movement – Silence. She opened the door and the first thing she did when she saw us, she whispered the gist of the exhibition to us and gesture where we may stand to see the light. All these made me want to tip-toe and be careful of my foot-steps.
As we were there by noon, the lighting has shifted. The set of glass and glittering materials in the middle of the chapel only have faint shadows on the ground. There were markings on the ground made by Woan Wen indicating the lights position at certain timing. At that instance, I experience the guilt of “taking things for granted” – I have missed the second, I have missed the light. I may have missed my second movement.
We then tip-toed to the back of a white wall and we discovered there were a few people, all eyes fixed onto the wall where more glittering materials were placed. Everyone waited and contemplated in silence. Even breathing was hardly heard. The noise outside the chapel continues; traffic, people talking, etc. Inside the chapel, it is totally a different feel – calm but anticipation for something wonderful. Then the lights dance! In a theatre setting, I would probably have clapped loudly for that, but here, I felt a happy feeling from within myself. Seeing the light (from where I have no idea), reflected onto the objects, and dancing happily on the wall, just makes me smile. Then the seconds passed, and I do not know when I will see that again.
We walked out of the chapel, we felt the bright sunlight onto our skin. The contrast makes me feel that I have just seen the hidden side of this natural light.
Check out Woan Wen’s documentation and thoughts of the whole process and more photos on-site by the artist:
VENUE: THE CHAPEL, SCULPTURE SQUARE
DATE: 16th June 1st July 2012
TIME: 1000 – 1300 (daily)
*Due to the nature of the work, audience are strongly encouraged to stay for the full duration of the installation. Otherwise, a minimum of 90 minutes is recommended.