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Fringe review: Precession's Adelaide Planetarium Experience

Adelaide Fringe

Artists and composers Sacred Resonance manipulate the sounds and imagery of deep space to create an immersive experience under the domed screen of the Adelaide Planetarium. ★★★

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Sacred Resonance’s Darren Curtis (musician, composer and artist) and Bradley Pitt (artist and curator), inspired by Plato’s idea that the planets produce a musical hum on their orbits around the sun, have created their own version of the “music of the spheres”.

Using NASA’s exploration of the solar system and interstellar space with the Cassini, Kepler and Voyager spacecraft, they have run the raw data from the Earth’s aura, electromagnetic radiation and data collected from the outer reaches of the solar system and deep space through their compositional software. The product is an aural soundscape representing Curtis and Pitt’s unique translation of the sounds of space.

The performance begins with the audience looking up at projections of the night sky from the desert landscapes housing the observatories where the data is collected. We then soar away from Earth, taking a tour of the solar system with detailed video of the sun and planets in turn.

The tonal soundscape patches in snippets of Holst’s “The Planets” as we move past them, the enormous celestial bodies floating above our heads on the Planetarium’s domed screen. We hear aural translations of Jupiter’s storms, Saturn’s rings and the echoing emptiness from the very edge of the solar system beyond Neptune.

The beautiful visuals of the planets and their moons rekindled the wonder and fascination with astronomy I remember from childhood. Once beyond the solar system, the visual presentation flagged a little with protracted graphic representations of orbit patterns, some resembling Spirograph doodles.

It was also slightly disappointing that the translations of the sounds of deep space felt somewhat reminiscent of ambient background music for a meditation session. It was certainly relaxing. The gentleman next to me drifted off in the outer reaches of the solar system and gently snored his way past black holes and nebulae in the furthest reaches of space.

This felt like a brilliant experimental concept that didn’t quite reach its full potential. However, if you love drinking in gorgeous astronomical imagery to ambient music while tilted back under a large screen, then Precession is well worth your time.

Precession was presented at the Adelaide Planetarium, Mawson Lakes. Read more InDaily Fringe reviews and stories here.

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