September 09, 2013

Photo Essay: Exploring Light & Color in Exxopolis

We city-dwelling creatures will stand around for hours waiting for any number of things: cronuts, ramen burgers, the Space Shuttle Endeavour, elephants, TV taping tickets, casting calls, you name it. I've spent my whole life waiting for my prince to come. But that's another story.

I'm always up for a good spectacle, so when I heard about the light and color luminarium called Exxopolis too late to get an advance reservation, I arrived just in time to get the last standby ticket of the day, on Saturday, the first day of its installation in Downtown LA's Grand Park.

Put quite simply, it's a bouncing castle for adults. Except it doesn't bounce. But it's a giant, colorful, inflated structure made of stretchy plastic through which you're given 15 minutes (or so) to walk, gawk, exclaim, and crane your neck.

The standby line was an estimated 90 minute wait. I had three hours to kill, so I took my place in line, laid down on the grass, closed my eyes, and listened to the crowd chatter.

My eyes popped open when I heard one male voice, at once grumbly and giggly, say, "Where are we going to find just one person by themself?"

I sat up, raised my hand and declared: "I'm just one person." It's a statement I've grown accustomed to saying. Over. And over again.

A group of three had a spare fourth ticket to enter the luminarium anytime, allowing me to swap a long line for a short one, admitting me in just a few minutes. And although we entered Exxopolis together, we soon parted ways and explored its domes, pathways, and windows on our own.

All of the light inside the Exxopolis is from sunlight streaming through extremely thin plastic...

...casting a red, green, blue, or yellow glow inside the structure...

...and upon the faces of its explorers.

There are a selection of tunnel entrances to choose from for the walking kind...

...and lit pods for the sitting kind.

The principal dome is called the CUPOLA, whose blue and red "stained glass" windows feature Penrose tiling and are nearly impossible to photograph.

The other domes are similarly inspired by geometry...

...and surround the central sculptural element, the TREE...

...which rises from floor to ceiling... a dizzying spectacle of colored plastic.

Ultimately, navigating your way through Exxopolis becomes confusing...

...with so many identical passageways, making you wonder from where you entered...

...where you'd been...

...and where you were going.

The best thing to do is follow the color, and let yourself wander and get lost.

If you time it correctly, you might catch one of the many mini-performances that occur hourly in the CUPOLA (we saw a Cambodian dancer). But get in whenever you can, and keep your ears open for the few that overbooked ahead of time, and have some extra tickets to give away.

Don't be daunted by the crowd, or the wait. You don't want to miss out on this one.

Related Post:
James Turrell Turned My Eyeballs Inside-Out
The Waiting Game

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