November 12, 2021

Photo Essay: Exploring the Third Dimension In Depth at LA's 3D-Space

The 3-D Space museum first opened in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park—just downstairs from the Echo Park Film Center in the circa 1932 Alvarado Arts Building—back in 2018. 

It had been on my list to visit since then, but I ended up missing multiple exhibits there before it was forced to close for the COVID-19 pandemic
Fortunately, I'd been to other related events—a screening of 13 Ghosts in ILLUSION-O (with a 3D "ghost viewer"), an exhibit at LACMA—but once it reopened after its pandemic closure, it was time for me to finally make it there. 


It's billed as the "Center for Stereoscopic Photography, Art, Cinema, and Education"—which just means its mission to educate us on the art, science, and history of everything we see "stereoscopically" (or two images meshed into one, as with our two eyes set slightly apart).


Its founder and CEO/President, Eric Kurland (a professional stereographer, who's now my friend), started seriously collecting 3D artifacts—some of questionable monetary value, but significant historical value—about 10 years ago. 
Probably pretty much everybody has seen those "red and blue" 3D glasses, which were actually designed more for viewing comic books than movies (using anaglyph technology of color separation). 

But the current exhibit at 3D Space, called "3-D IN DEPTH," traces three-dimensional visual entertainment back to its Victorian roots...
...with a display of stereo cards known as "Diableries" from France circa 1860s-1900...

...which show skeletons partying with Satan in a decidedly devil-may-care attitude. 
Then there are the stereoscopes themselves...

...the handheld devices that entertained guest in the parlor way before the advent of the radio or the television. 
These were the predecessors to the View-Master viewers we grew up playing with as children...

...and all the View-Master reels ever produced from 1939 to today would still fit in that first model, "Model A."

View-Master is amazingly still in production—and today's contemporary models still look very much like the classic models from the 1970s that I grew up with. 

On our tour of the museum, Eric pointed out how funny it was that the Stereo Realist viewer from 1947 looks so similar to...

...the "Google Cardboard" VR viewer of 2014.

Even more recent virtual reality headsets are pretty much the same thing.  
One of the real treats of visiting the museum in person was being able to see sculpted models that were used to photograph View-Master reels, like those sculpted by Joe Liptak for The Ugly Duckling. 

There are also encased dioramas with Liptak's sculptures of characters from The Jungle Book....

...and Fred, Barney, and Dino (the green version, not the more common purple one) Fred's bronto-crane from The Flintstones (and the Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm reel). 

The exhibits rotate—although fortunately for me, the current show is a kind of "best of" the prior ones I'd missed since the museum opened three years ago. 

In the museum's permanent collection are also lenticulars and holograms (which you don't need 3D glasses to view), comic book art, videos, a Natural Vision 3-dimension camera rig from the 1950s (used to film House of Wax, among others), and more.

To request an appointment (for a donation amount of your choice), click here
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