Lichtmond – Days of Eternity
Planetarium Hamburg & Blu phaseMedia GmbH
Film review by Volkmar Schorcht, Jena
A new ambient-music show with storyline for chilling
Music shows are not new but music shows with a continuous storyline are new to the Fulldome format. Lichtmond’s second music show for the Dome, after “Universe of Light” from 2013, takes place in the imaginary world of Chronos, the “Universal Giver of Time”, not to be confused with Kronos, the father of Zeus from Roman mythology. The tick-tock, the time, moments, eternity, emergence and decay are the focus of this predominantly electronic-ambient music and the not so easy to look through story. It can be quite mysterious and puzzling in the cosmos of Chronos. Anyone who wants to follow the virtual worlds through the lens of science or science fiction will be lost within the first minute. Lichtmond, at the core of which are the brothers Martin and Giorgio Koppehele who have been awarded multiple prizes in music and sound, describe their art as audiovisual poetry. In addition to the sound, they are also the architects of the visuals in the Chronos world. The production team from the Hamburg Planetarium with lead producer Jakob Laugs converted the visuals into 360-degree video format. The Spanish Imago-D studio (Diego M. Bonati, Javier Sáenz-Messía) is responsible for the “original” 3D world.
As the result shows, the conversion into the dome format is not an easy task, yet well mastered. Where is the difficulty? As always, dome projection, which does not easily tolerate overly bright scenes, requires its own very specific picture and color composition to captivate the audience. Landscape scenes, which can be impressive in the classical film format, can dramatically lose their radiance when projected onto the dome. The loss in visual depth is already painfully obvious in the desert and canyon flyover scenes. The palace, equipped with high pillars, becomes hazy in unsightly sulfurous tones. However, at home on the dome and immersed in brilliant colors are again the cosmic worlds with their artificial mists, planets, moons and black holes. One realizes the appeal of the graphic play and feels the limitless freedom to disregard the laws of physics.
Music is, of course, always a matter of taste and mainstream is neither desirable nor a model. The sound carpet in the “Days of Eternity”, for lovers of relaxation music, could probably extend much longer, while other listeners may want to “change the station” halfway through. The sound mixing is without blemish, a quality reference in its own league. Luckily, almost all larger planetariums offer enhanced surround and spatial sound systems allowing the full spectrum of Lichtmond to be realized. By the way, the tonal elegance of the rock guitar really stands out.
The visual design is unique. If you are looking for a comparable production, only “Voices in the Dark” will suffice. A completely different show, but also with the highest standards in 3D modeling and texture. As previously mentioned, a comparison with scientifically oriented productions is not appropriate here, even according to visual standards. In this respect, the gauges are also quite blurred. Photorealism, like simple game graphics is not what is desired. The end result is probably somewhere in the middle with a clear tendency towards a realistic look. Interestingly, the machinery and physical structures like the wheel of time, the various spaceships and the “Crystal Station” are rendered in fine detail and visually crisp, while the landscapes, whether above or below water, are more reminiscent of the boundaries of the 3D templates. The waterfall on Chronos, for example, appears unconvincing to the eye. The movements of the fish are quite stiff and the duplications of the 3D models without variation are also noticeable to the layperson. As in the first Lichtmond dome project, the dancing women figures are just great. A figure is assembled out of blue spheres and decays, one of the dazzling moments of the Day of Eternity.
Lyric should not be put onto a scale and certainly not those with an ambient character. Nevertheless, by the end of the show I wonder, as does, arguably, the entire audience, what messages the emphatic voices and lyrics have conveyed. Here, only the words remain in the memory without any real content, if any at all. The songs and the poetry are excellently interpreted, almost hypnotic and colored by very well-known voices. However, they leave the plane of superficiality to no opportunity. Very little concrete understanding can be gleaned from the lovely visual worlds and so it goes for the meaning of the texts in the final consequence. But in the end, the point is that the day lasts forever and the show for just a moment. The lightness and cheerfulness, even in the gloom and surreality of the show, are meant to snatch us for a few moments from the real world and, therefore, should be of infinite value, which according to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is representative of a whole eternity.
It remains to be seen whether “Lichtmond – Days of Eternity” will provide any significant contribution to the development of the Fulldome medium. But, for me, the short answer is…yes! Lichtmond explores visual poetry on the dome and, again for me, stands at the beginning of a potentially great development of a new genre of music and entertainment shows.
11th FullDome Festival, May 20, 2017