Journey, time, discovery

Awakening Bangkok, the city’s annual lighting installation extravaganza returned for its sixth year, from 24 November to 3 December, ready to impress locals and tourists alike.

Located in the Phra Nakhon (Bangkok Old Town) area, this is the first occasion the festival has been held outside of the Charoen Krung area (the old shopping district). This move offered festival goers a fresh perspective with 29 ‘time passage’ themed light installations spread across 13 different locations.

Phra Nakhon District is an area that originated and grew alongside road transportation and canal routes during the early Rattanakosin era, designed for facilitating the movement of people, goods, elephants, and spirits alike. And through this festival we see the area once again come to life as each of the installations beautifully captures the significance of the historic streets, acting as timeless conduits of life from past to present.

We were excited to be invited to feature a light installation at the festival and so jumped at the opportunity. We chose an old shop house constructed in 1894 as our location and were given two weeks to submit our brief.

We put our heads together and chose to focus on the concept of ‘journey, time and discovery in the context of life’ – our thinking being that lighting serves as an illuminating entity that can change and adapt much like the passage of time. Due to limited time, we decided to divide into three teams, each one talking a theme.

We responded to ‘journey’ by giving visitors a lantern to carry with them through the installation, the light was to signify the progression of life as they venture through each space.

The first room embodies ‘time,’ and the team chose to keep the entrance and staircase in darkness, designed as an immersive experience. We blocked the light with black fabric to create an ambiance and a sense of nostalgia that symbolises the inception of life.

The second team responded to ’discovery’ by installing a projector and screen in the next room. The screen continuously shows videography of youth transitioning into old age, aiming to highlight life’s journey and the aging process. The room was dark, subtle light peppered the floors and walls resulting in silhouettes of visitors being cast around the room. The intention behind this effect was to shine a light on the current human form and encourage people to notice and linger in the present.

Finally, the third group placed traditional Thai netting throughout the last room and within each net was a paper lantern with a light fixture that emitted a soft light of a yellow colour temperature. This added a haziness to the room, designed to create a blurred atmosphere and represent how uncertain the future is.

Awakening Bangkok 2023 was more successful than ever before, mostly because the installations were within walking distance of each other – in comparison to previous years where locations have been spread across the city. This year people were able to explore the entire festival in one small area and it made for an excellent event. We can’t wait to take part next year!