Dome Nights Planets 360 at Dynamic Earth should, on paper, be something very special – the combination of a 132-piece orchestral recording of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” set to images of our solar system from NASA probes (and other sources) projected on the “Show Dome”. The combination of all of these elements should have brought the magic of Holst’s music and the wonder of our solar system alive, but sadly it did neither of these things.
There are several reasons for this, I think, but one of the biggest problems was the lack of clear information about what we were listening to and observing. Apart from the briefest of online commentary at the beginning, the fact that Gustav Holst did not at the time of writing (1914-1918 roughly) intend “The Planets” to be based upon known scientific facts is not enlarged upon in any way. Here, instead, Holst’s “Planets” were the ones of mythology and astrology with the music representing our “human response” to them, which changes everything here and explains why Venus for example is beautiful in music but “hellish” in scientific fact. Despite the music being from a 132 piece orchestral recording, the audio here is surprisingly “limited” and brings out little of the wonder of this music.
The whole space exploration programme from the 1960s onwards has fascinated me constantly and the un-manned probes visiting the planets in our solar system have been a pleasure to follow, and new images of the “magic” that is out there and the surprises that we have discovered always amaze me, but this “voyage of wonder” is just lost here as these images become little more than animated coloured balls on the “Dome”. There is for some reason no accompanying display information other than what Planet in Holst’s work we are visiting and this is a huge opportunity missed to give us information about the planets themselves. So much of the imagery here is in “artificial colour” from the probes depending on what scientific analysis was being conducted and I think we needed more information on that. The overlay of close up images to our “planets” is at times surprisingly clumsy as a visual tool too. Unless you already have some familiarity with what many of these images are, this all too quickly becomes just background music to some all too often seen CGI graphics.
Dome Nights Planets 360
Dynamic Earth Holyrood Road, EH8 8AS
Aug 2-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22-25
Country: United Kingdom - Scotland
Group: Dynamic Earth
Review by Tom King