Nancy Baker Cahill
Liberty Bell
Commissioned by Art Production Fund with 7G Foundation and Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy. Hosted in Philadelphia by the Association for Public Art.
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Video courtesy Art Production Fund Image courtesy Art Production Fund

Nancy Baker Cahill: Liberty Bell

An augmented reality project on view in 6 U.S. cities starting July 4, 2020. Experience in Philadelphia at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Liberty Bell begins as an integrated whole and becomes dissonant and visually fragmented – unraveling just as the unfulfilled promise of freedom. It’s not a 4th of July spectacle; it’s a meditative reflection of what many are feeling right now. – Penny Balkin Bach, aPA Executive Director

Living at the intersection of public art, social consciousness and tech, Liberty Bell is an augmented reality public art project by artist Nancy Baker Cahill that will be on view simultaneously in six U.S. cities – Philadelphia, PA, Boston, MA, Washington, DC, Charleston, SC, Selma, AL, and Rockaway, NY – starting July 4, 2020. The artwork was commissioned by Art Production Fund in partnership with 7G Foundation and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, and the Association for Public Art (aPA) is the host partner for the Philadelphia iteration of the project.

Liberty Bell is an animated, monumental and richly sonorous augmented reality drawing in 360 degrees, which relies on geolocation. To experience the full animation, which includes sound, download the free 4th Wall app to a smartphone or iPad and be on-site on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

How and where to Experience Liberty Bell >>

The historic Liberty Bell in Philadelphia seeded the inspiration for the Liberty Bell project. Most historians believe the Liberty Bell was one of many bells that rang on July 8, 1776, a few days following the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In the 1830s, the bell became a symbol for abolitionist societies who called it the “Liberty Bell”, the name we know it by today. Liberty is inextricably linked to equality, so as a metaphor, the cracked bell mirrors the brokenness of many Americans’ experiences of liberty. The Liberty Bell AR drawing floats above the historic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art accessible to a diverse public audience, and invites viewers the opportunity to consider their own experiences of liberty, freedom and injustice and inequality.

In this polarized and tumultuous election year many concerns persist around the founding principles of American freedom and democracy. Inequality, structural racism, injustice, and the ability to vote are chief among them. Inspired by the original cracked Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the drawing hovers beyond viewers, swaying with the rich and layered sound of bells tolling. The Liberty Bell soundscape morphs from the rhythmic lulling of a tolling bell, into a harmonious and dissonant sequence of ringing as it becomes increasingly unpredictable and arrhythmic. Ranging from analog to synthetic, the sounds were compiled from an array of historical moments and locations. The richly textured brushstrokes and bell sounds resemble loosely knitted threads that unravel and come together in an uncomfortable, but cohesive moment. They reflect the evolution and transformation of liberty over time into the complex reality we face today. Baker Cahill chose Independence Day as a launch date to advocate for justice, civil rights and freedom in the U.S.

Nancy Baker Cahill's "Liberty Bell"
Photo courtesy Art Production Fund

“From its origins in American history, ‘liberty’ was only available to a certain demographic and came at great expense to others,” says the artist. “You can’t have a conversation about freedom and not talk about the history of slavery and inequity in the United States. A bell can be a warning or a celebration; something spiritual or a wordless means of communication. In an age of pandemic, surveillance, injustice and disinformation, who is actually free? That’s the conversation we need to have.” –Nancy Baker Cahill, Artist

“We are thrilled to present Liberty Bell in six different US cities this summer. While adhering to social distancing guidelines, it feels crucial to bring this important artwork safely to the public. Through a visual and sonic AR experience, Baker Cahill gives viewers the opportunity to reflect upon their personal experiences of liberty, freedom, injustice and inequality. We are honored to present this poignant work during such a remarkable time.” –Casey Fremont, Executive Director, Art Production Fund

Liberty Bell ​weaves a common thread between all six cities underscoring our interconnectedness and shared cultural inheritance. These historically significant and charged locations comprise an unprecedented activation spanning the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Programming will include topical conversations by cultural leaders and community members from all 6 cities as they relate to current events. Providing a platform for conversation and access to the artwork is a crucial component of this project.

For more information and details on public programs please visit artproductionfund.org

#LibertyBellAR | @ArtProductionFund | @NancyBakerCahill | @4thWallApp | @assocpublicart

NANCY BAKER CAHILL is an artist working at the intersection of fine art, new media and activism. She is the Founder and Creative Director of 4th Wall, a free Augmented Reality (AR) public art platform. Through 4th Wall, she initiated Coordinates, an ongoing series of curated & site-specific AR public art exhibitions, including Defining Line in Los Angeles and Battlegrounds in New Orleans. She received an “Impact Maker to Watch” award at LA City Hall and was named by the LA Times as one of the 2019 Faces of the Year, ARTS. She is one of ten artist scholars in the Berggruen Institute’s inaugural 2020 Transformations of the Human Fellowship. nancybakercahill.com

Download the Free 4th Wall App

Available for Apple and Android devices

Liberty Bell is an augmented virtual drawing in 360 degrees that relies on geolocation. To experience the animation, download the artist’s free app to a smartphone or iPad and be on-site on the Parkway in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (map below). The duration is approximately 1 minute 30 seconds and includes sound.
screenshot of free 4th Wall app to experience the augmented reality public art project by Nancy Baker Cahill

    1. Download the free 4th Wall app from the App Store or Google Play. The app is available for iPhone 6s and above (iOS 11 and up) and iPads with AP capability and Androids with AR Core. When opening the app, be sure to select “Allow Access” to photos, microphone, camera and location, and make sure sound is ON for the full experience. The 4th Wall app does not collect any user data.
    2. Head to the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The augmented reality drawing will appear overhead through your screen when you open the app. The best vantage points are from the bottom of the steps and Eakins Oval. Viewing locations are wheelchair accessible.
Map of area in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art where users can experience "Liberty Bell" augmented reality public art project by artist Nancy Baker Cahill
Area in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where the public can experience “Liberty Bell” through the free 4th Wall app

Please adhere to all social distancing guidelines as instructed by the CDC when viewing the artwork.

Nancy Baker Cahill’s Liberty Bell was commissioned by Art Production Fund and is presented in partnership with 7G Foundation and the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy. The project is being presented simultaneously in six cities – Philadelphia, PA, Boston, MA, Washington, DC, Charleston, SC, Selma, AL, and Rockaway, NY – and the Association for Public Art (aPA) is the project’s host partner in Philadelphia. For more information and details on public programs please visit artproductionfund.org

Special thanks to Anna Luisa Petrisko for her help with sound design, and to the team at Drive Studios.

ART PRODUCTION FUND is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to commissioning and producing ambitious public art projects, reaching new audiences and expanding awareness through contemporary art. Past projects include: Elmgreen & Dragset,“Prada Marfa,” Valentine, TX, Ugo Rondinone, “Seven Magic Mountains,” Las Vegas, Jeff Koons, “Seated Ballerina,” Rockefeller Plaza, NYC, Zoe Buckman, “CHAMP,” LA; Raul de Nieves “When I Look In To Your Eyes I See the Sun,” Miami; Lucy Sparrow “Lucy’s Delicatessen on 6th,” Rockefeller Center, NYC. For more information, please visit artproductionfund.org / @artproductionfund

7|G FOUNDATION champions organizations and individuals that challenge inequality in human rights, education, art and culture. By partnering with organizations, artists and community facilitators we seek to build strong community bonds that elevate local culture, while supporting cultural change founded upon our core values of social impact and sustainability.

THE JAMAICA BAY-ROCKAWAY PARKS CONSERVANCY (JBRPC) is a public-private partnership established in 2013 that is dedicated to improving the 10,000 acres of public parkland throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula for local residents and visitors alike. With its partners at the National Park Service, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, JBRPC works to expand public access; increase recreational and educational opportunities; foster citizen stewardship and volunteerism; preserve and restore natural areas, including wetland and wildlife habitat; enhance cultural resources; and ensure the long-term sustainability of the parklands. JBRPC is a project of the Fund for the City of New York, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For more information, please visit jbrpc.org / @jbrpc

The ASSOCIATION FOR PUBLIC ART (aPA, formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) commissions, preserves, interprets, and promotes public art in Philadelphia. The aPA is the nation’s first private nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a “Museum Without Walls” that informs, engages, and inspires. Established in 1872. aPA integrates public art and urban design through exemplary programs and advocacy efforts that connect people with public art. For more information, visit associationforpublicart.org / @assocpublicart

LOCAL PARTNERS: Boston, MA: Boston Children’s Museum, Boston Cyber Arts, Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston Harbor Now; Charleston, SC: Center for Heir’s Property Preservation; Philadelphia, PA: Association for Public Art (aPA); Rockaway, NY: 7G Foundation, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, The Rockaway Hotel, National Parks Service, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Rockaway Artists Alliance; Washington, DC: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

For Media Inquiries:

Kathleen Lynch, Director of Operations, Art Production Fund kathleen@artproductionfund.org