INTRODUCTION TO ALL THREE SCREEN PERFORMANCES
Dynamic Earth are running a series of audio/visual performances this Fringe inspired by the music of Pink Floyd and taking as their themes three iconic albums from the band –“Dark Side of The Moon”, “Wish You Were Here” and “The Wall” and presenting them as individual projects.
Many people will already be familiar with the Dynamic Earth complex as an innovative and award winning educational visitor experience, but many might still be surprised to find out that it houses a 360° SHOWDOME, and this quote from their website pretty much says it all
“Packed with stunning high-definition 360° digital fulldome technology and explosive surround sound, our ShowDome invites you into an immersive experience like no other.”
I had the pleasure of watching all three performances over one evening, and although each work is very individual, there is a connectivity and a progression and development of ideas and concepts holding every individual performance together, and although these are separate reviews, this work really needs to be viewed as a larger overall project. Writing these reviews is, I am finding, more difficult than I first imagined they would be as I have to be careful here that although the music of Pink Floyd is the source of inspiration for this project, it is not what I am reviewing here. This is not an album review, but a “Dome Nights” review and the music and the visuals, although they work well, are at times an odd combination together as much of the graphics take the form of fractal generated psychedelic style imagery, and Pink Floyd had by the period of these albums moved far more into their mainstream rock band era. Perhaps “The Piper At The Gates of Dawn” and “A Saucerful of Secrets” will be other projects in the works?
This is the last album chronologically (1979) in this Pink Floyd series and, to me, the last one in the visual concept of the screenings as it is the one where fractal generated imagery is the least important to the overall presentation. It is also the one that was probably the most difficult to bring into creation, and although it is still very good, it is the one that works least out of the three albums featured.
There are several reasons for this, and perhaps the first one is that it is a combination of images that we all know very well from the work over the years and newly created images. While the use of source material images may be what many people were expecting to see, that use also places immediate constraints upon the imagination of the creators and their ability to move away from the expected imagery. This is also the production that is far more linear in its story telling, far more like a traditional animated feature, and although this works well on some levels, on other levels it does not. Our main themes of “The Wall” and its commentary on education, life, war and death are all well handled here on screen.
Part of the never ending problem with CGI graphics is that unless you have a massive budget for them, a very long time to work on them, plus a large team to work on the project, the human form is still not anywhere near believable, and although our human forms are often used in more abstract circumstances here, this is where the graphics sometimes do not hold up to such a massive screen display. There is no way really of getting round the geometric shapes of rooms either and that simplistic geometry can also be an issue at times. There are, however, far more times where the concept and the imagery are working well, particularly where our visual perspectives are distorted and our fixed horizon points suddenly changed. However, given that “The Wall” album was released in 1979 (New Wave still high in the charts too), this is probably the least suitable of the albums for ‘60s/’70s inspired psychedelic imagery as both times and the band had moved on well past that reference point in time.
I had forgotten over the years just how many good songs there were on this album, and it was great to revisit some of the not too often played tracks. The one thing though that this performance cannot get away from is that “The Wall” was designed to be a stadium visual experience, and audiences are used to very expensive high end visuals from this production and, although interesting, funds available for this project are obviously nothing like what Pink Floyd have had at their disposal over the years. At 1 hour 10 minutes, it is also the longest by far of the three projects (the others are 45 minutes) and holding any audience attention for that long with animation is always going to be a difficult thing to do.
Review by Tom King
Dome Nights: The Wall – Inspired by the Music of Pink Floyd
Dynamic Earth - ShowDome
Aug 24, 27
1 hour 10 minutes
Country: United Kingdom - Scotland
Group: Dynamic Earth