When we entered The Society of the Arts and Technologies’ 360 Dome Theater there was an aura of mystery that surrounded the place. In the center sat a glowing geometric crystal that was surrounded by five pedestals. We took our seats on the far section of the dome and waited eagerly for the show to begin. We were among one of the first people in the theater and waited with great anticipation as everyone slowly filed into the dome. Then something unexpected happened, someone approached one of the pedestals and reached out to touch it. The show was interactive but I was surprised when part of the pedestal lit up. The speakers built into the wall started to make a noise too, not unlike the static of a TV when it can’t find a signal. Interest in the pedestals grew as more people approached them and they made different noises. When a pedestal near me opened up I got up to investigate. The intensity of the noise reacted to how far my hand was from it. I experimented with a couple of pads before sitting down all of which responded the same but with different garbled sounds. Shortly after 7 the lights in the room dimmed and every one took their seats. The show was about to begin.
A common theme was constructed at the very beginning of the show: rules are made to be broken. The very first effect they did with the lights was to make the domed room we were sitting in seem like it was a box made up of hundreds of parallel lines. Not just a normal box even, a box that changed its dimensions. It shifted from long and tall to broad and short and then back again. It never stayed still, always changing. Then, just when this effect started to lose its wonder, rippling dots were added to the illusion. A splash of color was added to the show and then the lights changed a group of congruent circles with lines that would attach and detach themselves in between them. While all of this was happening sounds would be playing as well. I want to call it music but music has a beat and a melody, but this was just sounds. Some of these sounds were staticky like from before the show started, others were reminiscent of an alarm clock that didn’t really want to wake you up, and some sounds even sound like they wanted to be a part of a song but got put through a synthesizer one time to many. This jumbled mess of what would be garbage on its own became something beautiful with how it was layered. Each sound found it place in the mess and worked perfectly to transport the view.
Then it stopped. The screen went black. The sound faded. Someone from the audience rose and approached the pedestal closest to them and reached out towards it. As their hand reached the top pad it lit up, a noise started to loop, and a geometric icicle of light grew from the ceiling. Just like before the show started people began to approach the pedestals again, each made a different sound and made a different section of icicles grow. As people removed their hands the icicles rose back into the ceiling and disappeared into darkness, only to be re- summoned by a new hand being almost magnetically drawn to the pedestal. Just as the scene before this one stopped in an abrupt manner so did this part of the show. A few seconds of silent darkness filled the room as people found their seats again before the dome was once again filled with dancing lights. This time it was in a blanket of cubes that twisted and grew as the strange noises returned to once again try and find the line between what is noise and what is music.
The show continued in this pattern of choreographed lights and sound with about six more distinct scenes, one of which was interactive again. Some scenes were better than others, with more intricate patterns and more experimentation with the visuals and sound. Others lacked the luster of the ones before them and felt out of place because of that. When the dome went dark for the final time, and the lights came on, I found it disorienting to emerge into the real world. We were leaving this area where rules could be broken and the only thing that held one back was their creativity and will to create. When I was talking with some of my friends they seemed a little disappointed by the show and how it lacked intent. I believe that there was intent behind it though and that was to push the boundaries of what can be done with interactivity, visuals, and sound. While the show wasn’t perfect I believe it succeeded in doing just that and that shows like it can be made even better by the ground work that this one has created.