January 19, 2015

Photo Essay: Laser Side of the Moon

I don't remember the last time I went somewhere to listen to an album. Probably in college, when I would go to a friend's dorm room to listen to his roommate's copy of John Coltrane's Blue Train and Van Morrison's Moondance.

Listening to music used to be such an active thing for me, not just a way to pass the time while washing dishes or sitting in traffic or waiting for the bus. Most of the time I spent with my father and my sister growing up was sitting in front of some stereo system or another, flipping records to their other side, listening to albums in their entirety.

I haven't done that in a while socially. I haven't even done that in a while in my home alone.

But when I heard that I could go to a laser light show set to the entire album of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, I jumped at the chance.

The show marks the return of Laserium, notorious for their laser light shows at the Griffith Observatory for nearly 30 years until 2002. Then they had their own "CyberTheater" on Hollywood Boulevard, but you haven't been able to see a real Laserium show since 2009, two years before I moved to LA.

Now, you can see their classic Pink Floyd laser show (as well as shows set to the music of U2, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin) in the same studio where they have done a lot of their design work – an intimate setting with limited seating that creates an immersive environment not only with the music, but also with the lights and the smoke, whose effects are amplified by strategically placed mirrors. At times, the light beams are all encompassing, the entire audience bathed in color, awash in liquid light undulating in three dimensions.

Photography doesn't do the show justice, though they're kind to allow photos with no flash. It's like a fireworks display or a James Turrell perception cell: you have to witness it live to really experience it.

But here's a taste of what it looks like:

It is at once relaxing and stimulating, transporting and yet grounding. In the audience, you feel so present in the moment. You are absorbed. Reentry into incandescent and fluorescent lighting is difficult. Conversation seems pointless.

And now all I want to do is go back and see what they do with the music of Led Zeppelin.

Related Posts:
James Turrell Turned My Eyeballs Inside-Out
A Cell for All Perceptions

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