6ABC Loves The Arts

"Open Air Philly" hits the Ben Franklin Parkway

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The sky over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is about to be awash in light and you the viewer is given the power to control.

It's called Open Air Philly and it's 24 of the world's brightest searchlights positioned over a half mile stretch of the parkway. Every night, from September 20th to October 14th, those lights will create giant sculptures in the night sky that will be visible from 10 miles out.

Over the past 20 years, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has become famous for his large-scale interactive works that make the spectator part of the process. His goal is to get the public to use public spaces.

"That people come out to public space to do something other than shop. They're just going to, I think you say in English, promenade, promenade, just walk around," said Lozano-Hemmer.

As people promenade around the Parkway, they also become participants. Open Air Philly will be a series of laser lights that move in response to the viewer's recorded voices.

Lozano-Hemmer stated, "Through a smart phone application or through the website Open Air Philly, you submit your voice, a message, for instance a dedication or a proposal or a question or a song. And then this gets sent into a queue".

Computer software interprets your voice into a canopy of dancing light over the Parkway.

"It's kind of a scary thing. It's somewhere between George Orwell and a concert by Prince as you're moving around the Parkway, your voice is controlling it," added Lozano-Hemmer.

You'll get a message when you've reached the front of the queue and it's time for your voice to control 240 thousand watts of power.

"They tell you hey, you're voice is about to go live in the night sky so you can be prepared for it and take your honey and show her how powerful you are," added Lozano-Hemmer.

The project was commissioned by The Association for Public Art.

To participate, go to The Association for Public Art website.

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