An “art project” promises to light up the Philadelphia sky — even more

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, August 30, 2012

Association for Public Art
An “electronic artist,” Rafael Lozano-Hammer, is planning to light up the sky over Philadelphia from September 20 through October 14, 2012, using an array of powerful searchlights. The so-called Open Air art project will employ 24 high-powered beams to create a movable art exhibit that will be visible from at least 10 miles (16 kilometers) away.

Is this art? What is it really accomplishing? We know that, as the International Dark-Sky Association phrases it, poor artificial night lighting not only obliterates viewing stars but also is wasteful in terms of energy, natural resources, and money.

Lozano-Hammer’s project will illuminate Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway with three-dimensional light formations along the roadway. “Participants” in the art project will be able to “use their voices and GPS positions to activate searchlights along a half-mile-long stretch of the roadway.” According to the project’s press materials, the light will “react” in brightness and position to each participant’s voice and words as they are spoken, creating a “canopy” of light over the city.

Certainly this project seems oblivious to science, pretentious, one could argue silly, and possibly even meaningless. In a world that seems increasingly ignorant of science and the importance of knowledge, ever more turned on to mindless entertainment 24 hours a day, this project fits right in.

It’s a shame that artists like Lozano-Hammer, who apparently has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, are so clueless to the ill effects their projects create, even as we all wonder what exactly this accomplishes for civilization anyway.

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