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What does it take to create a giant Swarovski chandelier for the National Museum?

Flying with wings

What does it take to create a giant Swarovski chandelier for the National Museum?
In Suzann Victor's 'Wings of a Rich Manoeuvre' at National Museum of Singapore, the artist has created a mythical, glowing beast of kinetic art using Swarovski crystals. We talk numbers

1
hour is the amount of time visitors can interact with the artwork from 6 to 7pm, by creating their own light drawings (a long exposure camera should be on hand) from the structure's LED lights.

Wings-of-a-Rich-Manoeuvre
1.2
metres is the length of each wing, which total to eight. Placed in the glass-enclosed building of the National Museum of Singapore, it forms a different picture each time it's photographed, whether day or night. "The work is like calligraphy," reflects Singapore artist Suzann Victor. "We forget that with Singapore being on the equator and sunlight being such a rich resource, it can be a material for artwork. It really uses sunlight as a material — not just a physical material but as lighting to show light again."

Suzann Victor
2
years is the duration of the work in the making. "In contrast to making a ceramic pot, painting or taking a photograph, it's not strictly an intuitive process," shares Suzann Victor.

3
full wing prototypes were made, with 186 strands each. They were assembled in Australia, where the artist is based.

Suzann Victor
8
different swinging patterns are made possible with customised electromagnets, with one of them forming a dragon. Instead of just using a continuous flow, the electricity is used in pulses that conserve it, making it a tad more responsible. "The gaps in the electricity usage create time signatures and patterns are made by the eight chandeliers, similar to the silences between the musical notes that organise music," compares the artist.

10
years is the time that has lapsed since Suzann Victor's last big installation for the museum in 2006 for its re-opening. Titled 'Contours of a Rich Manoeuvre', she adopted the colour red. "One of the things it could do was to get a very Western object [the chandelier] to perform a red dragon, which is a very mythic Asian iconography," explains the artist. "It's just a political gesture to use a very European object and to control it to perform [in a] very Asian [way]."

Suzann Victor
15
minutes is the time taken for each pattern's cycle. "The swinging is very sensual," she says. "Psychologically you feel you're being freed when you're looking at it. It's a lot about freedom — the way it's trying to be frictionless when it's swinging."

14,000
pieces of Swarovski crystals were used. "Their optical purity is unsurpassed by any other brands," the artist gushes. "Their design is very futuristic — at the same time, it references the glaciers, icicles, stalagmites or stalactites. It looks futuristic yet there is a very obvious connection to what is part of nature, in the way icicles form."

Suzann Victor
'Wings of a Rich Manoeuvre' is located above the bridge on Level 2 of the National Museum of Singapore, and will be in motion from 10am to 7pm daily. To see a behind-the-scenes video, click here.

Adibah Isa

  • Image: Chin Fan, Swarovski

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