Tech meets tradition at Mid-Autumn light-up

Visitors to Gardens by the Bay walking around the lighted displays set up at the Supertree Grove as part of the park's Mid-Autumn festivities.
Visitors to Gardens by the Bay walking around the lighted displays set up at the Supertree Grove as part of the park's Mid-Autumn festivities.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Amid sprawling and majestic lantern set-ups depicting Asian folklore on the moon, small mobile phone lanterns bobbed in an array of hues across Gardens by the Bay yesterday.

Clutched by visitors, the smartphones, encased within translucent paper and perched on selfie sticks, were powered by an app that made them dance and glow in multiple colours.

As visitors walked through the grounds, the colours changed to match the garden's larger lantern set-ups which include one of Chang Er, the mythological moon goddess.

Conceptualised by lecturers Carlos Banon and Felix Raspall from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, the magical scene was part of the Mid-Autumn @ Gardens by the Bay opening night's lantern procession.

The mobile phone lantern app uses GPS and Bluetooth beacon technology, with the aim of putting an old-meets-new twist to the traditional festivities, said Gardens by the Bay.

Dr Raspall, 36, who is an assistant professor, said their design sought to serve as a bridge between tradition and innovation. He said: "Inspired by the beauty of the lantern processions, we aimed to enrich the event with a subtle use of design and technology, bringing a more contemporary character without losing the charm that the public loves."

This year's Mid-Autumn celebrations, which will run till Sept 18, will take place over three weekends instead of the usual two. It was officially opened by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

It is jointly organised by Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Press Holdings' Chinese Media Group and the National Arts Council, in partnership with the National Library Board and the People's Association.

Most of the display sets, designed by the Gardens and fabricated by a team of skilled craftsmen from China, are installed in the free-access areas of the Gardens.

Other highlights from the programme include a colonnade of lights near the Supertree Grove, featuring 4,000 lanterns painted by the community.

There will also be free nightly multiracial performances, storytelling sessions, craft booths and a food street featuring dishes such as salted egg fries and chilli crab mantou.

Making its debut at the showcase as well is a multimedia installation that resembles a giant lantern.

The 18m-wide circular structure is made up of 6,000 curtain-like silicon strands that light up with projected imagery and videos.

Mid-Autumn festivities also took place across other parts of the island yesterday. Among them was the Chinatown Business Association's mooncake tasting event at Kreta Ayer Square.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2016, with the headline 'Tech meets tradition at Mid-Autumn light-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe