Cosmological Cinema: Pedagogy, Propaganda, and Perturbation in Early Dome
Cultures around the world have long turned to the dome of the heavens
to understand and affirm their realities. As this perceived curvature
has manifested architecturally throughout the world, domes have been used
to enclose the most sacred environments of many cultures. The rounded
enclosures have often been used as canvases upon which to represent psycho-cosmological
constructs, painted with artistic renderings of incorporeal ideals. From
Buddhist stupas to Islamic mosques to Christian cathedrals, these structures
have been used as places of ritual, indoctrination, and transcendence.
With both internal and external surfaces often steeped in visually symbolic
and geometric meaning, domes have artistically and architecturally represented
the worldviews from which they arose and were meant to sustain.
In the 20th century, it became possible for the first time to radially
extend mental images onto the dome screen using projections of light.
Made possible by advancements in engineering, mechanics, and electronics,
the ability to completely immerse the visual field of audiences in a mediated
environment was seized upon by numerous pioneers in a wide range of contexts.
These modern multi-sensory sanctuaries continued to reflect the cosmologies
and motivations of their creators, subtly affecting the evolutionary trajectory
of the cultures from which they emerged.
This poster explores the motivations behind the construction and application
of dome theatres in an attempt to provide insights into the worldviews
and cultural trends that shaped their evolution. The goal is to make new
connections between disparate efforts that can shed light on a largely
forgotten history - a history that is increasingly relevant as a global
network of immersive domed theatres are developed for education, outreach,
and media arts experimentation in the 21st century.