250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia: A Unique Art Piece Uses Sound, Movement and Google to Explore Philadelphia

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A mural representing the physical manifestation of PolakVanBekkum’s seven-month residency at the University City Science Center, 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia, will be unveiled on Sunday, November 23 at 780 South 52nd Street in Philadelphia.

This mural will be displayed on the old Apple Storage Building. For PolakvanBekkum, the image represents “the rabbit hole that leads you into the virtual world of 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia."

Our art is about landscapes, maps and things that move around in there. One of the tools we use is GPS, which we use the way a painter uses a brush and sculptors use chisels.

For artist duo PolakvanBekkum, it took 250 miles, seven months and the aid of Google Earth to cross Philadelphia. A mural representing the physical manifestation of PolakVanBekkum’s seven-month residency at the University City Science Center, 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia, will be unveiled on Sunday, November 23 at 780 South 52nd Street in Philadelphia. The artists will hold an informal talk with refreshments immediately following at Dock Street Brewing Company, 701 South 50th Street in Philadelphia.

Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum, an artist duo from the Netherlands, arrived in Philadelphia in May 2014 to lead a novel public art residency program, Art Along the Avenue of Technology (AAAT), at the Science Center. 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia explores the intersection of art, science and technology and incorporates satellite imagery, photography and GPS to document mobility in the region.

According to Van Bekkum, “our art is about landscapes, maps and things that move around in there. One of the tools we use is GPS, which we use the way a painter uses a brush and sculptors use chisels. With it we draw lines, make dots, suggest depth and show movement. We use GPS tracks to listen to people, look at the landscape and tell stories.”

PolakVanBekkum’s residency will formally conclude with a multimedia screening event of 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia in the spring of 2015. Observers will experience daily life in the city as they see and hear the minute-by-minute movements and sounds of people, animals and objects, but will only see the movements within Google Earth and Google Streetview. A step-by-step development of their project can be followed via http://www.250miles.net.

The unveiling of the physical component of 250 Miles crossing Philadelphia will take place on Sunday, November 23 at 2 p.m., outside of the old Apple Storage Building at 780 South 52nd Street, where a large scrim mural will be on public display. An informal Artist Talk, along with refreshments, will be held at Dock Street Brewing Company at 701 S. 50th Street from 3-6 p.m. This event is free.

Art Along the Avenue of Technology is a collaboration between the Science Center, Wexford Science and Technology, A BioMed Realty Company, and the Philadelphia’s Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art Program.

About the Science Center
The University City Science Center is a dynamic hub for innovation, and entrepreneurship and technology development in the Greater Philadelphia region. It provides business incubation, programming, lab and office facilities, and support services for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and growing and established companies. The Science Center was the first, and remains the largest, urban research park in the United States. Since it was founded in 1963, graduate organizations and current residents of the University City Science Center’s Port business incubators have created more than 15,000 jobs that remain in the Greater Philadelphia region today and contribute more than $9 billion to the regional economy annually. For more information about the Science Center, go to ucsc2014review.org.

About Philadelphia’s Redevelopment Authority’s (PRA) Percent for Art Program
The Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority pioneered the Percent for Art Program in March 1959, becoming the first city in the United States to create a program requiring developers to commission art as part of the development process. PRA’s Percent for Art Program obligates developers who are building on land acquired and assembled by PRA to dedicate at least one percent of the total building construction costs toward the commissioning of original, site-specific works of art. Since the inception of the program, nearly 400 works of public art have been installed in all areas of Philadelphia. Works of public art can be found in such diverse developments as high-rise commercial and residential towers, housing for families and the elderly, shopping plazas, parks, hotels, universities, schools and libraries.

About Wexford Science & Technology
Wexford Science & Technology, a BioMed Realty company, is a real estate investment and development company that meets the growing and specialized facilities needs of for-profit and not-for-profit institutions, including universities, university-related research parks and healthcare systems. Wexford Science & Technology’s objective is to become a long-term partner, support strategic organizational growth in significant, value-added ways while strengthening the communities in which they work.

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Jeanne Mell
University City Science Center
+1 (215) 966-6029
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Kristen Fitch
University City Science Center
(215) 966-6156
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