Velaslavasy Panorama

This Saturday I was introduced to a little-known theatre/art space tucked off one of the main streets leading to USC in the historic West Adams district of Los Angeles.     The Velaslavasay Panorama is dedicated to exhibiting the art of the moving panorama-an art form dating back to the late 18th century.  Upon entering, the visitor travels up a narrow, black, winding staircase to step out onto a black platform which is the floor of a circular room- approximately 20 foot in diameter. A black bench lines the inner perimeter of the tiny dark room, inviting you to sit and observe what lies before you.  The current exhibit, “Effulgence* of the North” is a 360 degree painting in shades of black, grey, and white depicting the Arctic landscape.   The painting is given life by the use of electric light that shifts over it, rising and falling through the shades of the landscape, creating movement or stillness.  A subtle ambient music plays in the background.

As I sat, the first thought that implored my attention was how modest and plain the experience was.  (That’s a nice way to say ‘boring’.) At first, the landscape appeared very barren, the light moved across it slowly, and the music was not very engaging.   But I knew better than to let that thought stick so I sat, and sat some more, and then began to see the light work its magic over the piece.  I slowly started to see things move, to notice how the image transformed with the changing light.  It became a bit meditative,  and I realized how I was the one who had to engage the work, to actively participate in it-not the opposite.  It was this great exercise in returning to something simple and basic, with minimal to zero technology, and to assume responsibility for making something of the experience.

We are swimming in endless seas of technology and visual stimulation, of entertainment that hijacks our senses and diminishes our ability to make thoughts of our own.  Our own creativity atrophies and we become slightly numb to the things that existed before this modern-day tech-implosion.

The Velaslavasy Panorama was a welcome break from all of that.  But even I needed to adjust into it in order to fully appreciate it.  It just shows how extreme our world has become: we are constantly in a stimuli thunderstorm.  I really enjoyed the humble experience at the Panorama and suggest you pay it a visit the next time you are in Los Angeles.  There is much to be said for simplicity.

*Effulgence -(n) Brightness or a brilliant light radiating from something (literary)

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~ by maureenmoore on July 20, 2010.

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