Before this beautiful exhibition closes, Weekender trotted down to get a look and feel of its experiential and photogenic installations
The Future of Us is no ordinary urban-planning, Singapore-is-50-years-old exhibition.
Upon stepping onto its grounds, I was immediately drawn towards one arresting and alluring sight – a colossal lion splashed red and white, arched and ready to roar against the dramatic backdrop of Marina Bay Sands.
Alas, the lion is actually situated the end of the exhibition trail, and my guide was nudging me towards the actual entrance. “I’ll be back,” I whispered forlornly as I was dragged away to the start of the trail.
I soon discovered that there was more to The Future of Us than that majestic beast. Here are the best sights and hidden corners you can capture at the exhibition for your next Instagram post or photography project.
1. The extremely useful exhibition guide
On your way into the exhibition area, you will be able to take a copy of this newspaper pamphlet. It’s actually the cleverly-designed guide to the exhibition (“The Future Ex-press”? I’m on my knees), complete with a fake classifieds section. Take it – it will come in handy as a companion, a photo prop and a fan especially for a hot day. #essentials
2. Jackpot at the entrance
The first exhibit you’ll be lead to at The Future of Us is this triptych of multimedia booths, made to look like newspaper pages. The three screens play in succession, and each features a different era of media: old television boxes from 50 years ago (far left in image above), a touchscreen tablet from the present day and who-knows-what new-fangled medium 50 years in the future – we might be watching our ministers’ speeches through holograms.
See if you can hit the jackpot on these slot machine-like screens by capturing that moment when all three screens display similar images; for example, the title screen when none of them has started rolling yet.
3. Get spacey
The Future of Us is split into three main domes, and this is part of what awaits you in the first dome, “Theatre of Generations”. It’s a truly mesmerising experience. If you want a clear shot of this splash of stars, get snapping the moment it begins, because soon inspirational quotes from Singaporeans will start zooming across the screen.
Those, too, are great to capture. Get your camera at the ready and snap once you see a quote that resonates with you, because they come and go pretty quickly. Time and tide wait for no Instagram.
I like this one the most, despite its disturbing lack of a full stop.
4. Cosy up on bean bags
The next dome, housing “Symphony of the City”, is another experience altogether, sporting a 180-degree screen to beat any cinematic experience you would normally have in Singapore. That, plus bean bags. If you get strangely territorial over bean bags, then you’ll want to be one of the first through the door to this dome.
In this dome, you’ll be taken through a sensory journey of Singapore’s urban development, and see what it can grow into in 50 years’ time. There is a short waiting time before the show starts, so use that window to take your photographs, because you won’t be able to take your eyes off of the realistic graphics and light projections once they begin.
5. Floating HDB flats
The final major dome is “Home Tomorrow”, multi-layered space of fun possibilities where you can admire the scaled-down projects of the future as a whole, or hunt for specific hidden details that have been hinted at in the previous two domes.
For example, try to spot one of the mentioned visions of the future, a self-sustaining HDB flat with a literal food chain:
Or this corner of a shopping mall of the future, when 4D is still very much a thing:
I took the liberty of crafting a parody of the quintessential ‘minimalism’ photograph:
All the visions and hopes portrayed in this dome are actually currently being researched by existing companies. Some of them are also creative ideas and fantasies dreamed up by children, who we hope will go on to make them into reality. No pressure, though; PSLE first.
6. Submit your wish
You didn’t think you’d get away with just enjoying the fruits of The Future of Us’ labour, did you? In the last area, “Blue Skies”, you will get to pen your own wish for the future of Singapore, and watch it float into a collective of fellow Singaporeans’ hopes and dreams.
Your bubble of hope will ‘float out’ from this futuristic-looking contraption (above) and appear in the ceiling. It will appear in this giant thought bubble immediately, so be fast if you want to capture it:
I failed to capture mine on time, so here’s an equally-inspiring wish for the future by our late founding father Lee Kuan Yew.
7. Swing to make the lion roar
As you exit the “Blue Skies” exhibit, you will reach the part you couldn’t wait to explore at the start, although you might have forgotten about it because of how thought-provoking and immersive the rest of the exhibition was.
I might or might not be talking about myself. Regardless, you can’t just walk up to The Lion – not before you get on a swing and push.
There is a whole row of swings here, and they’re not just for display or another photo op. By putting in effort and having fun while doing so, you will be able to power up The Lion, who will channel a powerful roar. Hey, that sounds like a metaphor for our future!
Little foam shapes will also bubble out from the giant generator in front of the swings. On closer inspection, they are actually the five stars and crescent moon from our National Flag, rising into the sky.
Now, you may approach The Lion.
8. Hunt for these photogenic spots
But wait! Don’t exit the area yet – there’s no coming back, and you’ll have to queue again for another admission ticket if you want to re-enter.
You may wander back to the previous domes for more photo ops, and some of them are wedged between the domes in hidden spots.
There is one between “Home Tomorrow” and “Blue Skies”, in a path leading off to the portable latrines outside the domes:
As you linger around this area between the second and third domes, look up and you’ll see this architectural arch that many of the exhibition staff have taken a liking to for jump-shots:
The entire latticed structure weaving over the pathways are actually designed by students, and each ’tile’ sports a unique design – much like snowflakes.
9. Al fresco snacking
Once you exit the dome area, you will enter this outdoor space where you can grab a snack or two and chill with a view.
10. Shop at a marketplace of the future
(Photos: The Future of Us Exhibition)
Here’s your chance to be as hipster as anyone can possibly get – liking things before they even exist. At The Marketplace, you can window-shop for prototypes of products of the future that have appeared throughout the exhibition, such as futuristic drones and miracle pharmaceuticals.
The Future of Us runs until Mar 8, and visitors are encouraged to register for tickets (free of charge) in advance at www.thefutureofus.sg.
By Pamela Chow
Weekender would like to thank The Future of Us for hosting our writer.
Extra tip: Best time to visit
When asked for the best time to visit, my guide explained that while bright daylight is best for capturing outdoor sights like The Lion and the lattice work, nightfall also brings a whole new look to the exhibition:
(Photos: The Future of Us Exhibition)
Hence, the best time to visit would be about 6pm, giving you enough time to capture the sunlight, then wait for the light displays to start once the sun goes down.