'Reverse' rain to feature in immersive, multisensory Bicentennial Experience showcase

'Reverse' rain to feature in immersive, multisensory Bicentennial Experience showcase

The centrepiece of Singapore’s Bicentennial commemoration will be a grand overarching narrative of Singapore’s 700 years. Vanessa Lim takes us through what to expect. 

SINGAPORE: The centrepiece of Singapore’s Bicentennial commemoration will be a grand overarching narrative of Singapore’s 700 years.

From Singapore to Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience will run from Jun 1 to Sep 15 at Fort Canning Park and consist of two parts: the Time Traveller indoor exhibition and an outdoor trail called Pathfinder.

Time Traveller, which is described as an "immersive, multisensory experience", presents Singapore's history in five acts, each highlighting a different historical period from 1299 up until the present year.

Act 1 of From Singapore To Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience
The Bicentennial Experience runs until the middle of September 2019. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

Among the works on display is a weather installation featuring rain falling "in reverse". It aims to provide insight on how weather played a significant role in the rise and fall of civilisations and cities, including Singapore.  

There will also be a 360-degree screen with a rotating stage, from where visitors will be treated to the story of how colourful early-20th century Singapore blossomed into a dynamic port city. 

Act 4 will see visitors moving through a tunnel where cracks in the wall provide peeks into life during World War II, ending with an oral recounting in a pitch-black room of a survivor's harrowing escape from massacre in the Japanese Occupation.

View of a wraparound screen at The Bicentennial Experience at Fort Canning
Singapore's bicentennial commemoration, called From Singapore to Singaporean, opened to visitors at Fort Canning Centre in June. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

The exhibition will be an hour long and narrated in English. 

At the end of the exhibition, visitors can vote on the theme - multiculturalism, openness or self-determination - that most resonated with them. 

The outdoor trail Pathfinder allows visitors to “experience Singapore’s 700-year-old history through space”.

The Pathfinder comprises a series of interactive pavilions at Fort Gate
The Pathfinder comprises a series of interactive pavilions at Fort Gate. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

It comprises eight themed pavilions, including the House of Maps, which displays the evolution of the marking of Singapore's place in the world across time, and the Seed Conservatory, where visitors can see the island's native plants, as well as those brought here either by forces of nature or to be cultivated for aesthetic and economic reasons. 

There is also the Pavilion of Words, an open-air library housing quotes, books and excerpts taken from histories and stories related to Singapore. 

The Pathfinder is a series of interactive pavilions at Fort Gate
The Pathfinder is a series of interactive pavilions at Fort Gate. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

Film buffs can look forward to Echoes, a series of films projected nightly at Fort Canning Green, which tell stories that explore the themes of love, compassion and multiculturalism in scenes inspired by life in early Singapore. 

From Singapore To Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience banners
Banners showcasing the From Singapore To Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience, outside Fort Canning Arts Centre during the media preview on Friday (May 24). (Photo: Jeremy Long)

READ: Light installations, augmented reality trail to kick off Singapore Bicentennial

At the media preview on Friday (May 24), Singapore Bicentennial Office curator Chang Yueh Siang described The Bicentennial Experience as the office’s “signature event”.

Other bicentennial events tend to be focused on a certain community group, which differs from the approach taken by the Bicentennial Office for this experience, said Ms Chang. 

“We're taking a more global overview of the 700 years of history,” she said.

An actor holds masks during Act 1 of From Singapore To Singaporean: The Bicentennial Experience
An actor on stage during Act 1: Beginnings, of the indoor cinematic experience called Time Traveller. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

Speaking to CNA, Singapore Bicentennial Office project manager Wan Wee Pin said accessibility was important in designing the experience to appeal to a wide range of age and language groups.

“In the end, we realised the best way to do it is as an experience rather than a traditional exhibition where you have artefacts and panels,” he said.

Visitors hold umbrellas during Act 5: Destiny of The Time Traveller at Fort Canning Centre
Visitors hold umbrellas during Act 5: Destiny of The Time Traveller at Fort Canning Centre. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

Mr Wan hopes that visitors will be able to take away the three main messages of multiculturalism, openness and self-determination that he believes was always present in Singapore from the start.

“(But) I think even if they don’t really get these three messages… (We hope that) they understand that Singapore has a longer history and it is a history that we can be proud of,” he said.

Tickets to The Bicentennial Experience are free and are available for booking on the event website for those looking to visit in June. Tickets are offered on a first-come-first-serve basis and visitors may book up to 12 tickets online. 

Those planning to visit in July, August and September may also book their tickets at the ticketing counter in Fort Canning and online within the first week of the preceding month.  

Source: CNA/cc(hs)

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