Philly Love Notes: Philadelphia's Interactive Art Exhibits

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Inspired by a post from My Modern Metropolis (an incredible blog if you haven't yet seen it) and a trip to the Park Ave Armory in Manhattan for Ann Hamilton's the Event of a Thread (see below), I thought I would look back on some of Philly's interactive art installations of 2012.

1. Longwood Garden's Light: Installations by Bruce Munro

This installation featured seven trippy large-scale outdoor light installations. My favorite was the Forest of Light featuring 20,000 illuminated stems that looked like blooming flowers amidst a dense forest. The other most striking part of the installation was the Water Towers, a collection of 69 symmetric towers made of two-liter soda bottles. Each bottle contained a fiber optic cable that changed color in relation to music that was being played throughout the installation. I don't know what Longwood Gardens could do to top that installation.

2. The Association for Public Art commissioned Open Air by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Open Air transformed participants' voice messages into a visual display using 24 robotic searchlights that reacted, both in brightness and position, to the voice’s frequency and volume. My boyfriend and I sat hypnotized on bleachers along the parkway one night, sharing a pair of headphones to listen to the messages. They ranged from calls for peace and love, to Bill Cosby, to someone yelling "fried chicken!" Every night I could see them from my home in South Philly, as could my parents at their home in Cheltenham

3. Data Garden's The Switched-On Garden

I learned about the Switched-On Garden from an Ignite Philly event. According to Data Garden, the exhibit established a connection with the natural environment through live music, performance and sculpture that blurred the distinction between biological and digital worlds. To me it was making music with apples and old kids' toys, watching lights flicker across a meadow like fireflies, and listening to the movement of plants as their impulses were translated into musical compositions.

4. Heart & Soul: The University City Public Piano Project

I have to admit that I did not actually see this one, but was tipped off to it by Allison Stadd from Uwishunu. Looking back at photos and blog posts, I am bummed I missed it. It was described as "an interactive public art exhibition featuring eight artist-decorated pianos on sidewalks and in parks and public spaces throughout University City." The artists included Terry Adkins, Joe Boruchow, Justin Duerr, Katie Holeman and more.

Click here to read the original article with photos.