Wednesday, April 3, 2013

One Foot in the Time Machine


Pictured above is the time machine in the Kimmel Center in Center City, Philadelphia. It's not a real time machine, of course, just a prop/art installation created to serve as a focal point/brand for the second-ever biennial Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.

The time tunnel itself is pretty nifty, actually.  There are pleasantly low-key ambient sounds and projections that can be created/altered by tapping on a transparent touchscreen (for the sounds) or grabbing two copper grips (for the images).  But PIFA?

Well, I'm still hopeful but . . .

First, I have to explain that the original PIFA was the result of a ten million dollar gift by philanthropist Leonore Annenberg, who specified that the money had to be spent on a single event. In the hope that it would spark something great, you see. So there was a month of citywide dancetheatermusicart, capped by a street festival on Broad Street which, because it occurred on a suddenly perfect spring day exceeded all expectations.

It was a triumph.

This year faces the volume-two-of-a-trilogy problem.  It can't possibly live up to the first year (for one thing, it doesn't have the funding and for another, nobody's talking about closing down the center of town for its climax).  So a lot of potential sponsors are holding back, waiting to see if this PIFA has the chops to keep the the momentum rolling.  If it succeeds, they'll pile on for the third one and Philadelphia will have one heck of an arts festival.  So there's every reason to be rooting for its success.

The problem is that so far as I've been able to determine -- and I went through the Kimmel Center looking at all the freebie literature -- there's no schedule for PIFA.  Oh, there's an elaborate thing at the home site where you can search by day or by category.  Five clicks will take you to an individual event and another one will take you back to the beginning of your search.  If you're patient enough, you can get a sense of everything you might want to see tomorrow.  But if you want to know if there's anything worth seeing in the coming week . . .  well, you'll probably rely on the reviews in the newspaper.

A great deal is made about the difference between a book and an e-book.  I think the real chasm is between a schedule and an e-schedule.  

But maybe that's just me being old and resistant to electronica.  If you're curious, you can check the schedule here


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