Benjamin Franklin Parkway
September 20 - October 14 2012
Open Air is an interactive art installation designed to transform Philadelphia’s historic Benjamin Franklin Parkway, between September 20 and October 14, 2012.
In this project, twenty four powerful searchlights create unique, dynamic light formations in the sky which react to voice messages sent by participants using a free mobile app and this website.
The public is invited to record and submit messages of up to 30 seconds in length — shout-outs, poems, songs, rants, dedications, proposals. As the messages playback in Philadelphia, the lights react in brightness and position to the frequency and amplitude of the voice recordings, which can be heard through the mobile app, the website and public speakers located at the Project Information Center at Eakins Oval (24th Street and the Parkway).Priority is given to mobile app messages sent live from the Parkway during the show, but messages can also be sent through this website at any time. Messages submitted through the web are archived and played-back by the lights if other web visitors rate them highly. A personalized webpage is created automatically for every participant, featuring their message, comments, rating and images of the light designs that their voice created.Depending on atmospheric conditions, Open Air will be seen up to 10 miles away from the Parkway each evening from 8 to 11 p.m. The Project Information Center at Eakins Oval 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).The Open Air voice archive also features selected “Voices of Philly,” recorded messages from distinct individuals both past and present who have inspired and influenced the flavor of Philadelphia. “Voices of Philly” messages are accessible on this website and will be played at various times throughout the project. Content for “Voices of Philly” will be collected by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, project partner WHYY executive producer Elisabeth Perez-Luna, and the Association for Public Art.
Inspired by the city’s rich tradition of democracy and respect for free speech, Open Air is at once a visible voicemail system, a rant line, a public stage and an archive of recordings from Philadelphia’s past and present. The piece is the largest and brightest to date of Lozano-Hemmer’s searchlight installations. Despite its monumental size and its wide visibility, the project is not intended as a cathartic pre-programmed spectacle like a fireworks display or a son-et-lumière show. On the contrary, the piece is designed to attract personal participation that creates a sense of global connection, complicity and public agency.