Projects

Located on the second floor of the new National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia PA, Dreams of Freedom uses a signature projection system that blends projected imagery with physical sculpture. Instead of a flat projection screen, the surface that receives the projection is a custom fabricated, white Corian, 18 foot long, three dimensional sculpture. This never before seen approach offers the unusual opportunities to mix the undulations of the physical form with projected illumination. The story the museum wished to portray through this installation was a poetic interpretation of the numerous factors that combined to motivate one quarter of Europe’s Jewish population to immigrate to America at the turn of the last century. The major method through which these decisions were made and discussed among families was through mailed letters. Local Projects worked with the museum’s curatorial team to review hundreds of archival letters and to then interpret not only the letters’content into a series of 5 films based on historical accounts, but to use the actual aged and curved letter forms as the basis for the model of the sculpture through iterative 3D scanning and modeling. For visitors watching, letters float and fall from the sky. As people gather in the villages, an individual letter, which is read in English, Yiddish and Hebrew is heard. The letter relates what the new world will bring, describing the good and bad that await immigrants in America. Integrated into the media are small, stylized period animations of the scenes described. These were designed and animated from paper cutout postcards, drawings, old family photographs, and imagined period landscapes. As the letter is read, and the scene is projected, visitors realize this is what people in Europe were dreaming of, imagining, and sacrificing for.