Last night the interactive art installation Open Air opened on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway here in Philadelphia. Internationally known artist, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, created the installation of twenty four ten thousand watt searchlights that sit atop buildings along the park way and react to audio recordings somewhat like a graphical equalizer on a stereo. Anyone can participate by visiting the site openairphilly.net and recording their own message, song, or any other audio they can imagine. The software Lozano-Hemmer and his team created analyzes the audio and converts it into a signal that then controls those twenty four searchlights on the parkway. The website also includes an archive of prominent Philadelphians, past and present, whose messages can also control the lights on the Parkways. The website also utilizes Google Earth to simulate what a message will look like in the search lights, and enables users to view the lights from different vantage points in the city. The Association for Public Art commissioned the project, and hired me to shoot a press conference and the interview footage in the video here. Last night’s opening included a speech by the artist and by Penny Balkin Bach, executive director of the Association for Public Art. In addition, musician and performer, David Moss, and acclaimed beat-box artist “Godfather of Noyze” Rahzel performed. Thousands lined the inner lanes of the Parkway and gathered on the Art Museum steps to see the lights. The Open Air footage is from last night’s opening on the Parkway. The installation will run every night from September 20 through October 14 from 8 PM to 11 PM.
To find out more about Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and his work, please visit Artsy’s Rafael Lozano-Hemmer page.