When William Penn designed Philadelphia, he envisioned five public squares that still serve as some of the city’s busiest hubs.
Video artist and Klip Collective co-founder Ricardo Rivera drew inspiration from those same squares in a way that Penn might not have anticipated in the 17th century: adding larger-than-life video clips and Red Bull cans.
“It’s all kind of based on the sacred geometry of the architecture, and the original city plan of Philadelphia,” Rivera said.
Rivera centered the installation around five Red Bull cans meant to represent Rittenhouse, Logan, Washington, Franklin and “Centre” squares, the latter being the area where City Hall and Dilworth Park stand today.
The interactive light installation is Klip Collective’s contribution to the Red Bull “Art of Can” exhibit. Each piece is composed of or inspired by a Red Bull can. This fall, the public event is drawing artists from around the country and displaying the pieces in the makeshift outdoor gallery of Dilworth Park.
Under the direction of New Creatures, a creative organization that produces live interactive experiences, the exhibit has transformed Dilworth Park into a maze of cubicles, immersing audience members in a gallery setting while keeping them in the apex of the city.
“We didn’t want to take away from what the experience was already in this plaza, it’s pretty beautiful, it’s pretty brand new, so we thought we would just kind of look at the environment … and then give people this kind of explore-at-your-own pace so you can just kind of walk around, breeze by, you can really go in-depth, go inside the cubes, check out the art,” New Creatures’ executive producer Ajamu White said.
Klip Collective’s installation entails a knob-and-button console that allows audience members to control up to 25 clips, all of which will be projected onto the front of City Hall.
A longtime resident of Philadelphia, Rivera said his knowledge of the city’s history helped him create the idea and propose it to Red Bull.
“It’s cool that we’re bringing one of our most coveted buildings to life, so it’s an honor for me to do this, something I always wanted to do,” Rivera said.
For Rivera, projecting media art onto the sides of buildings is nothing new. He founded the organization with photographer Pier Nicola D’Amico in 2003 with the intent of pushing the boundaries of film installation art past the usual museum and gallery settings.
Klip Collective has projected its light and film productions onto an array of backdrops, like the Barnes Foundation, a 100-acre trail through the Longwood Gardens and even Temple’s marching band.
“It doesn’t make sense, but you figure it out,” Rivera said, referring to the marching band’s role in the “Temple Made” film created by Klip Collective.
Using video clips of students and alumni, Klip’s project launched the Temple Made campaign in 2012.
While Klip Collective’s installation is an eye-catching piece of the exhibit, other submissions have proven to be different, despite having the same inspiration.
Michael Enright, a University of the Arts alumnus and adjunct animation professor at the Pratt Institute, participated on the panel of judges for the exhibition. Enright was particularly impressed with the submissions that explored the actual science of Red Bull.
One sculptural piece by local artist Lucy Pistilli used the aluminum of the Red Bull can as a material to etch upon.
“Looking at the work, it brings to mind issues of sustainability, repurposing of the material, which I think is important for all of us to think about,” Enright said.
Enright viewed and judged the submitted works at the Arch Enemy Arts Gallery and Boutique on Arch Street near Front during the summer. He was accompanied by other judges with ties to the city and its art scene, like James Claiborne, a curator and communications specialist for the “Visit Philadelphia” campaign.
Claiborne said the city’s “resurgence” has made it an ideal place for Red Bull to organize the Art of Can exhibition.
“I’m hoping that it makes people curious about what else is happening around town and how they can actively engage in the larger cultural community,” Claiborne said.
The exhibit will run until Oct 8.
Angela Gervasi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.