Once We Get There – Synopsis

The film introduces an alienating yet familiar landscape of satellite images, tracks and sound. We follow the minute by minute movements and sounds of animals, machines and people in Philadelphia. Although we constantly hear reality, we experience the movements within an abstract, two dimensional world of satellite photography.

Without any crew present, the protagonists recorded their own trajectories, sounds and private readings of the streets, allowing the filmmakers to get acquainted with their experiences only afterwards. The camera movements and positions were decided on in the studio. The editing is very modest: the audience gets the opportunity to travel with the protagonists, minutes on end (and might even afterwards continue their travels as all the recorded trajectories are also available, in actual time, via the website) The resulting film, or documentary, if you prefer, positions the audience as unwitting but emphatic voyeurs.

Despite its meditative approach “Once We Get There” intensively questions our contemporary techno-society, where social connectivity and eavesdropping coexist and balances between empathic co-traveling and voyeurism.

Multi Media

The project is completed in May 2016 with the cartographic interactive website 250 Miles Crossing Philadelphiathat contains all recordings, walks, trajectories (in actual time) of all participants, even those not used in the film itself.

Recording method
The artists developed a unique recording method and visualisation: Traditional film arises from a sound recording synchronized with 24 photos per second. Within “Once We Get There” the synchronization happens between a sound recording and a GPS track. (one location per second) A wearable-technology bag “The Beagle” was developed to perform the recordings. A special software plugin was developed to realise the synchronisation and to decide on the camera movements and camera positioning in the 3D world of Google Earth. This way a poetic gap between image and sound emerges and continues to work throughout the film.

For further background information please visit the project BLOG

Technical information
Duration: 49:55
Screening format: Quicktime/DCP (on request)
Frames per second: 25
Aspect ratio: HD Video 16:9: 1920 x 1080
Sound format: 2ch Discrete / Stereo
Color: Color


Once We Get There will be presented at FID Marseille 2016

Once We Get There is included in the Rencontres Internationales Catalogue 2015-2016

The 250Miles Crossing Phildelphia interactive website has been exhibited at:
Rento Brattinga | galerie in Amsterdam NL 2015
Global Imaginations Leiden NL 2015

250MilesCrossing Philadelphia Website was included in IDFAdoclab projects 2015

The project resulted from a 7 month “Art in Public Space/Percent For Art” residency of Dutch artist couple PolakVanBekkum (Esther Polak and Ivar van Bekkum) in Philadelphia.


Rob Das, editing
Huba De Graaff, music
Julia Guerrero, producer
David Clayton, producer
Barbara Hennequin, web design
Daniel Maarleveld, web design
Sean McGinnis, coding
Ed Farrell, coding
Arno Peeters, sound
Heleen Emanuel, web design, coding

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