You may be asking yourself what a planetarium has to do with an art show. We all know planetariums are a place to view the wonders of the universe, and a part of those wonders are the things we create right here on Earth. For many years, Mike George, the Senior Manager of Planetarium and Science Visualization, has wanted to use the planetarium as more than a venue to see the stars, but as a venue for art, music and even theatre. Mike George envisioned putting art on the planetarium dome while adding effects to it. Thus, Art360 was born.
Admittedly, we didn’t know how to make the show possible. The initial idea was to use the capabilities we have in our Digistar5 planetarium software to add an extra dimension to the artwork. In essence, that is exactly what we do, but with the added help of Photoshop and After Effects. Therefore, we choose the artists based on if the art can translate to the dome of the planetarium and how effects can be added to the artist’s pieces. Once we digitally receive the art from a chosen artist, we review the pieces and figure out how we can add an extra dimension to each piece. We ask “How can we make it move?” We do not just want to have a slideshow of images; instead, we want to immerse the audience in a way that is beyond even the artist’s expectations.
So, how do we make it move? The process for creating a show is very involved. For most pieces, we use Photoshop to take the art apart by separating out different elements. Then, we use After Effects and/or Digistar5 (our planetarium software) for the animations.
However, a show is not complete without music. Music is the final touch that makes Art360 an immersive experience. Since Art360 is about the artist and their creations, we allow them to choose the music they want for the show. Our job is to place the music where we feel it fits best. When we have the music, we use a program called Audition to edit and/or combine songs to fit the order and length of the show. This is how we create an experience for our guests.
Liz Davison, who works extensively on Art360 in the Dorrance Planetarium says, “When I began my career as a planetarian, I never envisioned myself producing an art show, but it has been a fun and enlightening experience.”