Ivar van Bekkum and Esther Polak unveiling of 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia

23 November 2014 — 23 November 2014
780 South 52nd Street, Philadelphia, PA, United States Philadelphia Show on map | add to calendar
#film #media-arts #visual-art

On Sunday November 23 at 2PM, Dutch artist duo Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum are having an artist talk about their Navigation Documentary 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia as well as the scrim unveiling of their facade art piece at the Apple Warehouse Building in Philadelphia.

For the project 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia, Polak and Van Bekkum show daily life in the city. You will see and hear the minute by minute movements and sounds of people, animals and objects. But although you will constantly hear reality, you will only see the movements within Google Earth and Google Streetview. For a glimpse of the documentary, see the trailer below.

Reading the streets

Imagine the streets are a kind of text that people can read. What an individual reads “in the street” is dependent on the totality of their life history and the totality of their tracks taken before. So to every individual, the same street presents a different text. Taken to the extreme an individual travelling the same streets may read a slightly altered text, depending on their experience in the time in between.

In the beginning of May Polak and Van Bekkum moved to Philadelphia for half a year to work on the project 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia. They will work in Philadelphia until November 2014 on the Science Center’s campus as part of a unique program: Art Along the Avenue of Technology. Polak and Van Bekkum will build an on-line GPS-based navigation documentary, which will follow the movements of people as they move throughout Philadelphia.

Rabbit hole

A hand, reaching for a gift wrapped in wrinkly tissue paper with an image of the street that lies on the opposite side of the location where this image can be seen – the facade of the Apple Storage Buidling on 52nd and Willows Avenue.

For Van Bekkum and Polak this image is the rabbithole that leads them into the virtual world in which their project 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphia takes place. They took the digital Streetview image from that exact location, printed it and made it into this new world again.

About the artists

Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum are an artist couple. In their work they use new technologies. They are best know for projects making use of digital cartography, for example GPS systems. This makes it possible to render visible a totally new aspect of the landscape, notably mobility, by means of registered tracks.

Three successful projects using this technology are AmsterdamREALTIME, MILKproject and NomadicMILK project. In the first project a map of Amsterdam emerged simply by visualizing the routes taken by several inhabitants of the city. In the second project a dairy transport was followed, from the udder of the (Latvian) cow to the mouth of the (Dutch) consumer, by having all people involved draw their respective routes; their itineraries made one line right across Europe. The NomadicMILK project was meant to reflect the itineraries of people with a primarily mobile way of life. The project did focus on Nigeria where both Fulani nomads, (shepherds who move with their herds) and industrial dairy products (PEAKmilk), form an economy based on dairy and mobility.

At this moment Polak and Van Bekkum are working on several projects, one of them focusing on panoramic visualizations of fisherman’s data, Streetview Images printed on demand as fruit wrappers, sunrises drawn in sand and small scale DIY graffiti land art.