Anyone who’s visited the Ben Franklin Parkway by night in the past two weeks may have seen beams of blue light piercing the sky during trial runs for a new light show being installed as part of Philly Fringe and Live Arts. The “Open Air” installation, designed by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, will light up the sky starting Sept. 20 through Oct. 14th (between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.) with more than two-dozen search lights sending pulsating messages into the night.
The William Way LGBT Community Center has been invited to be a featured group with the interactive public art project and is seeking submissions in the form of 30-second messages to be recited on National Coming Out Day – Oct. 11 (8 p.m.). The installation’s technology will analyze each message for frequency, intonation and volume, and subsequently create the light formations in real time to be beamed across the night sky.
“We saw this as a great opportunity to engage not only the LGBTQ community, but to have the community engage with the broader Philadelphia community,” says the center’s Executive Assistant Paul Blore, “and what better time than on National Coming Out Day?”
As a featured group, William Way will open the evening with the first 10 messages and corresponding light formations (Oct. 11). Those whose submissions are selected will gather at the Project Information Center at Eakins Oval on the Parkway to recite them.
Not without its controversy, because of nature concerns, the artist was asked to redesign the light show for fear that it could interrupt the migration of birds. Audubon Pennsylvania has provided guidance for the light show, and will continue monitoring any impact throughout its duration.