A time machine is under construction at the Kimmel Center, a massive, high tech sculptural, light, sound and video installation signifying . . . all kinds of stuff.
Stretching more than 100 feet through the Commonwealth Plaza, snaking from the Kimmel;s front door to the entry way to Verizon Hall, the tunnel of past, present and future imagery (and sounds) is the physical centerpiece of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (March 28-April 27). And just one of many free treats that hopefully will draw visitors in on a daily basis.
While the swirling, custom steel grid work is mostly up and the time tunnel will likely be enclosed by week's end, "we've got a month to fine tune what goes inside," said production designer Robert Pyzocha. His team has been brainstorming about the TM since last September and put out a heady artistic proposal which excited regional executives/funders at Dow Chemical, also major sponsors of the Franklin Institute-backed Science Festival returning in April.
What the Time Machine's all about seems to change depending on who's talking and who's listening. But here's what the creative team put out in press release form today about this DeLorean-free, user interactive journey through the time and space continuum.
"The Time Machine is a calendar which tracks time by the century and captures information about all the people who have ever lived. This timeless version of Facebook shows how we are all linked together in the wormholes of time. Taking its' shape from DNA, tornadoes, the Hadron Collider, sound waves and an EKG, a giant spiral swirls across the plaza . . . The time machine begins as an individual journey with audiences entering a enormous double helix, experiencing the gears of time churning , turning mechanical movements into data translating numbers into DNA and forming a beautiful visual landscape through projections. The journey through time and space continues with interpretations of the age of starlight, exploring the relationships of constellations and light years. In another section of the spiral, timelines are explored, enabling audiences to reach out and control their own relationship with the past. Visitors will also interact by actually connecting the dots of humanity onto a clear touch screen surface and then seeing their connections projected in an ever growing spiral drawing on a visual screen. "
But wait, there's more:
"There is a mosaic of faces through history that react to the visitor's proximity and even a section on the pulse of humanity using the heartbeats of people to power the machine with a light installation of 600 heartbeat crystals, activated through sensory hand monitors that trigger the lights. The journey concludes with a video comparing the history of the Earth to a 24 hour period with humanity only appearing on the planet for the last 30 seconds."
Even if you don't "get" all that, the Time Tunnel is likely to entertain young and old alike, in a slightly spooky, spacey, fun house way akin to the walk-through heart at the Franklin Institute – a personal fave as a child.
Children of all ages should also enjoy PIFA's time-warped comical romp "Shut Your Wormhole" to be peformed at 5:30 p.m. daily and the twice nightly "Flash of Time" theatrical show engaging with a cast of 16, original music, puppetry and more.
Also on tap, for free: Friday noon concerts, family fun activities, Saturday night theme night parties, decades mixers, Philly music nights, late night jazz and a-cappella performances.
Learn more about the Time themed festival – including the dozens of paid-admission entertainments focusing on historic events/personalities and future fantasies, too - by visiting PIFA.org.