These past few weeks have been pretty intense. After my trip to Lisbon, I dove right into some online classes I’m taking and a new training program. I actually had to set a reminder for myself to move my car because I haven’t driven anywhere (a.k.a. left the house) in a few weeks.
But Facebook accurately targeted me with an ad for Wonderspaces, a new interactive art space in Philadelphia. So I bought some tickets without thinking (and well before I was in the thick of it with work and school).
When Saturday rolled around, Gustavo and I geared up to face the brave outdoors and walk… inside the mall where the show was hosted. In it, there were about 10-12 exhibits total that were primarily interactive. On the first floor, there were four separate rooms that played, predominantly, with light, color, space, and technology. These were the Instagram spots, with hanging light bulbs that changed color (Submergence) and a trippy series of string/thread attached to a floor and ceiling mount of a gorgeous rainbow effect (Sweet Spot).
On the second floor, there were more conceptual art pieces, including two VR-based experiences (that I didn’t go into both because there was a line and because I’m one that tends to get nauseous with VR). They had an interactive screen where each movement you made painted a new color on the digital canvas – which is especially fun for kids.
There was another interactive exhibit, Sun, hidden all the way in the back where you were able to interact with a digital screen showing a sunset. Except, with the related beach ball prop in hand, you could actually move the sun around the screen. A nice, albeit brief, way to feel a little bit like a god. (Especially fun for me since I just finished reading Circe and the main character talks quite a bit about her father, Helios.)
One of my favorite rooms was the Stories of Mechanical Music – a dark space where, as you rotated a handle on something like a large-scale music box, lights reflected off the wall like a dance. Blooms, as well, was this gorgeous display of 3D, moving art with a combination of sculptures and strobe lights to create a seamless, animated effect.
The works of art were fun, often whimsical, and blended an interesting degree of tech with fine art. It was also interesting to see the ways in which people interacted with them. I recently decided to take a bit of a break with most social media and yet here I was in the heart of a perfectly Instagram-able art space. It made me wonder about our relationship to art and how that’s evolved over time.
Is art a tool to help us capture and reflect on the transience of beauty? Is it a philosophical exercise in forcing us to stop and react to something out of the ordinary? Or is it simply finding our own creativity against a unique backdrop?
I’m curious to see what comes next to the space, which is also located in Fashion District, a mall in Center City. Art for everyone, right?