Open Air [us Philadelphia]

Association for Public Art Presents Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Open Air :: until October 14, 2012; Nightly, 8:00-11:00 pm :: Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA.

The Association for Public Art in Philadelphia (aPA, formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) presents the world premiere of Open Air by Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Open Air is a spectacular interactive light experience directed by participants’ voices and GPS locations, illuminating the night sky from Philadelphia’s historic Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Inspired by the city’s rich tradition of democracy and respect for free speech, Open Air was created specifically for Philadelphia and for participation by the general public. Using a free mobile app developed by Lozano-Hemmer’s studio, participants are invited to record and submit messages of up to 30 seconds in length-shout-outs, poems, songs, rants, dedications, proposals.

In response, 24 powerful robotic searchlights, stationed strategically along a half-mile section of the Parkway, will create a unique, dynamic light formation in the sky. The lights will respond in brightness and position to the GPS location of the participants and the frequency and amplitude of their voice recording, which can be heard through the app, the project website or public speakers located at the Project Information Center at Eakins Oval (24th Street and the Parkway). The free ‘Open Air Philly’ app will be available from the iTunes store starting Sept. 20.

Priority will be given to those submitting messages from the Parkway, but for those not onsite, the project website,, will allow users to record messages that will be archived and played back by the lights if other web visitors rate them highly. All participants will have a personalized webpage created automatically with their message, comments and images of the light sculptures that their voice created.

The messages with the highest ratings online will be featured during the opening night celebration, a free public event that will take place September 20, 7:30–11pm, on the closed inner drive of the Parkway. The evening will host a selection of local food trucks, a live countdown and ceremonial lighting, a presentation by Lozano-Hemmer, voice performers and other special guests.

Depending on atmospheric conditions, Open Air will be seen up to 10 miles away from the Parkway each evening from 8 to 11pm. The Project Information Center will be equipped with app download, free mobile loan stations and seating areas for watching the lights and listening to the messages. There will also be an Information Outpost located at Sister Cities Park (18th Street and Logan Square).

‘This project is meant to be a new public space for Philadelphians to express themselves,’ says Lozano-Hemmer, who is globally acclaimed for his large-scale interactive art experiences, including the well-known 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics installation Vectorial Elevation. Thousands of individuals will be able to participate onsite during the project’s duration, and hundreds of thousands more will experience the project online and as viewers. Lozano-Hemmer’s interest ‘is to create intimacy and not intimidation. While the project will be spectacular in scale, what matters to me is that individual participants can personalize their city with their contributions.’

The project is presented in conjunction with the 2012 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and the 2012 DesignPhiladelphia Festival and supported in part by the Knight Arts Challenge Philadelphia and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Concurrent with Open Air, Lozano-Hemmer will present the exhibition Voice Array, Sept. 6–Oct. 13, at New York City’s bitforms gallery.

Oct 2, 14:36
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