Singapore not only proved to be inspiring through its promotion and use of green initiatives but also for the art that was to be found throughout the city, ranging from the traditional religious themed subjects to modern sculptures placed in the streets and public gardens.
Many of the buildings seemed more like art forms, displaying functional beauty. One example is this commercial centre that lit up and interacted with the noise of the traffic at night, forever changing , still, yet in constant motion as the colours of the many hexagons of its outer surface changed. Although a static form it interacted, responded to and even played with the environment.
From the beginning of time people have needed to create and to share their wonder, their stories, their delight with nature, as well as their spirituality. From the early cave art to this day art plays such an important role in communication of ideas, in education and in sharing and stimulating imagination. On the other hand art has also been used to misinform to impose power, and to keep people in control. It is a powerful tool.
At Gardens by the Bay sculptures were abundant and used throughout the garden. It was hard to take in all the WOW! factor, and all the beauty. Powerful, pensive, ethnic, clever pieces carefully chosen ad placed to titillate the senses as well as being used to enhance and interact with nature and the spectator. Whatever the theme each one was so well placed it made you stop, look, and really notice what was happening at that point.
All in all there was much to admire and although there were some wonderful initiatives and architecture, the character, colour and richness of the old city is being swamped and replaced with an over emphasis modern, new, big and on shopping. Globalisation and Westernisation seem very much the main influence .
The once vibrant Orchard road could be any mall in any country offering the same brands available in every city. It would have been far more interesting to see colourful, noisy chaotic markets; once prolific and rampant roadside gardens, as well as a greater input and variety of indigenous culture. There is still China town and Little India but the very strong feeling pervaded was that they too would be modernised and become just another shopping “brand” experience.
The other thing that struck me was that although nature was introduced into urban planning I wondered where the “wilderness” was as everything was so carefully structured and presented- nature tamed and presented as a neat package. Nature in the raw is chaotic, exuberant, in constant flux and change, aspects that we do need to encounter and appreciate to fully engage, interact and understand. Disconnection from nature has contributed to the present crisis the planet faces. Introducing nature in a planned way is admirable but we need also to save and maintain wilderness areas.
Introducing the awareness and importance of working with nature in a planned way as Singapore has is to be commended but we need also to save and maintain wilderness areas. As the city grows, the forest declines, ,concrete carparks and freeways covers the earth and pot plants replace the understorey. Fake rocks and waterfalls become reminders of what once was, as are strategially placed sculptures that distract as well as represent lost species.
Does one stand in awe or lament?