Filling The Square With The Empty Air

 

How's the air up there, Billy? | Photo: Bradley Maule

How’s the air up there, Billy? | Photo: Bradley Maule

With the days finally creeping toward something resembling spring, the city’s public spaces are filling in with color, and filling in with people sharing the utmost city experience. At Philadelphia’s preeminent public space, a new art installation goes live today, but you won’t see it—and that’s intentional.

With The Empty Air, a 99¢ iPhone app officially launching today, The Mural and the Mint’s Mike Kiley presents Rittenhouse Square as a personal, sonic experience directed entirely by the user. The sound walk is GPS-based; walking through the park triggers various parts of the larger composition, which doesn’t necessarily have a beginning or an end. Walking from, for example, the corner of the park at 18th & Walnut, past the sundial sculpture and into the center of the Square, you might transition from the fade-up sound of rustling leaves, to a number that mixes church bells with a shuffling beat and bassline, to, ultimately, the “title track” of the app.

emptyairapp

“I wanted the music to have a pop element,” Kiley says, “to be accessible, not obtuse.” Whittled down from days of recordings of the sounds in the park, Kiley and collaborators Eliza Jones (Buried Beds), Chris Ward (Pattern Is Movement), and Matthew Ricchini (Arc In Round) made music inspired by those sounds.

More over, his goal is to take smart phone technology to a place that doesn’t draw you to it. “This is an app that doesn’t require you to be engaged with your device,” he explains. “It’s technology that’s invisible and fits in your pocket.”

Kiley hopes that Rittenhouse Square is just the starting point for the sound walks. “I want my music to effect change in places that could use more foot traffic,” he notes, citing the Race Street Connector/Pier and Grays Ferry Crescent as potential future compositions.

The app, designed in partnership with South Philly’s P’unk Ave, is currently only available on iPhone, but Kiley hopes to expand to Android and other platforms soon. An opening reception for The Empty Air is at the Rittenhouse Tavern this evening at 8, with a live performance by The Mural and the Mint.

About the author

Bradley Maule is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland OR, Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.



Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Philadelphia Far Behind Peer Cities Says National Trust

Philadelphia Far Behind Peer Cities Says National Trust

January 19, 2018  |  News

Mayor Kenney's Historic Preservation Task Force convened last night for their seventh official meeting. Starr Herr-Cardillo reports > more

SEPTA Spruces Up The Underground With Downtown Link

SEPTA Spruces Up The Underground With Downtown Link

January 18, 2018  |  Harry K's Encyclopedia

Harry K. takes us on a tour of the city's extensive pedestrian underground concourse network, soon to be rebranded by SEPTA as the "Downtown Link" > more

The Vanishing Of Northeast Village

The Vanishing Of Northeast Village

January 16, 2018  |  Vantage

David Coyne traverses bramble and broken blacktop along Roosevelt Boulevard to reveal a military housing community that was evacuated and demolished in the 1960s > more

A Field Guide To Demolition

A Field Guide To Demolition

January 12, 2018  |  Vantage

Peter Woodall spotlights specific building types facing the most development pressure in four high-profile neighborhoods > more

From Prints To Trivets, Art Imitates Life Of Manhole Covers

From Prints To Trivets, Art Imitates Life Of Manhole Covers

January 11, 2018  |  Vantage

Contributor Jonathan Schmalzbach talks with a designer and a printmaker about their obsession with manhole covers and public utility as creative muse > more

Little Corner at 10th & Market Reveals Big Legacy

Little Corner at 10th & Market Reveals Big Legacy

January 8, 2018  |  The Shadow Knows

Reading Terminal, Philadelphia Mint, Drexel Institute--all prominent landmarks built by contractor Charles McCaul. The Shadow uncovers the little-known legacy of the big time builder at a nail salon on 10th Street > more