Last week to check out the badass art installation that is Site/Sound: Revealing the Rail Park

It’s your final chance.

It’s your final chance.

The interactive festival known as Site/Sound: Revealing the Rail Park is rounding out its final week. The immense and interactive experience has been set, surprisingly, on an old railway. 

A collaborative project between Mural Arts Philadelphia, Friends of the Rail Park and American Composers Forum, the arts initiative features art installments dedicated to breathing life into The Rail Park.

All exhibits close on Oct. 19. The three installations offered as part of the exhibit — “Aspect 281,” “Soon/Now/Gone” and “Moon Viewing Platform” — have been on display each Saturday since Oct. 5. Musical and visual performances coincide with the installations.

“Aspect 281” is a multimedia exhibit set up in a parking lot at a mixed-use building on Spring Garden St. This installation, created by Carolyn Healy and John JH Phillips, captures the history of railroads and their importance in the city’s development.

Nine-foot-tall smokestacks dot the landscape, with train tracks set up on the ground and a projection of old railroad footage and signals on the side of the building. A luminescent signal board stands at the back of the exhibit.

BEEP — the Boyer College Electroacoustic Project from Temple University — will be performing at the installation Oct. 19 along with composer Michael Reiley McDermott. 

Both have performed since the installation’s opening.

“Soon/Now/Gone” is an installation by artists Erik Ruin and Rosie Langabeer that is set in a new location every week. Taking place under different tunnels and viaducts of the Rail Park, this exhibit allows viewers to utilize a zoopraxiscope — historic devices used to watch moving pictures — to look at hand-drawn images with specially created soundtracks. Each video tells a different story about the history of railroads in the Victorian era.

The last viewing of “Soon/Now/Gone” will take place under the Carlton St. tunnel between 11th and 12th streets.

“Moon Viewing Platform” makes use of an often overlooked and poorly placed piece of land. Artists Nadia Hironaka, Matthew Suib and Eugene Lew took advantage of the space to project short films on a nearby building. 

Films of moon phases and musical performances are there to allow the audience to gather in a meaningful space. It is reminiscent of the Japanese “karesansui,” also known as a zen garden.

Site/Sound was first previewed on Oct. 2 at the site of “Aspect 281.” Viewers got to see the exhibit and listen in on performances from musicians who would be performing at the art installments.

Kevin Dow, executive director of The Rail Park and Jane Golden, the executive director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, were joined by other important city figures to share the importance of Site/Sound’s connection with the park. For those not aware, The Rail Park is a public park built on railroads that once serviced the Reading Terminal. These rails are a significant part of Philadelphia’s history, but the tracks remained unused for years — until the construction of the park.

Phase One construction of the park has been completed. The park is planned to be three miles in total, but it currently occupies a quarter mile stretch of tracks between Noble and Callowhill streets.

In large part, this was the impetus of Site/Sound. Intended as art, it was also created to help Philadelphians envision the future of The Rail Park. As engagement and interest in the art surrounding the history of the Park and its future, the knowledge of construction to come renews the city’s vigor around this ambitious project. 

For more on this project and future plans for The Rail Park, visit therailpark.org/sight-sound-revealing-the-rail-park/.

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  • Alex Nag's headshot

    Alex is a reporter most passionate about arts and entertainment writing. She has been working for PW since March 2019, where she has been lucky enough to learn more about Philadelphia’s vibrant culture and interview some of her favorite artists, such as The Black Keys.