Cosmic Prom: Vortex Immersion Dome, 8/19/11

26 08 2011

Senior prom is not likely to be a favorite memory for most hipsters. After all, prom represents the pinnacle of conformity to high school culture. The school year builds up to this overblown event, supposedly the best night of your young life. If your high school prom was the best night of your life … I am sorry for you. But when musician Jesse Nolan called the recent Cosmic Prom the best night of his life so far, I dug it.

On Friday, August 19, Nolan and friends time warped back to high school and restaged the prom as a collaborative artistic celebration. With a playful sci-fi twist, Cosmic Prom offered an immersive, interdisciplinary party that united an exciting array of young artists in downtown LA.  The inaugural prom committee included songwriter/producer Jesse Nolan, DJ Ana Calderon, actress Tessa Thompson, performance/video artist D’Arcy French-Myerson, and artist/filmmaker Torie Zalben, in partnership with Vortex Immersion Media and c3: createLAB.

Who needs streamers when interactive visual media can set the scene? Prom guests, often bedecked in fabulously gaudy dresses and glittering astral attire, played with shadows and light in art exhibits throughout the studio. Photographer Tiffany Roohani captured memories in an impressively detailed space ship photo booth crafted by Nathan Owen, complete with ray guns and astronaut helmet props. (No boring, awkward prom poses allowed!) A troupe of performance artists in spacesuits wound about the Digital Dome Studio throughout the evening, interacting with guests and molding tin foil sculptures.

The center of this downtown studio space is the futuristic Vortex Dome, where VJs projected 360 degrees of psychedelic images – from cartoons to cosmic lights – to accompany a thrilling array of music throughout the evening. DJs Mor Elian and Noah Gershman (Bruno Mars) spun a playful selection of retro dance hits between live performances by local bands. The Morose Project, Lemon Sun, and Caught a Ghost each brought a rich palette of sounds and influences to the stage. Lemon Sun even pulled up the exceptional “tap dancing percussionist” Lauren Brown to fill out their rhythm section in a delightfully unexpected collaboration.

A full crowd had gathered by the time Caught a Ghost took the stage after midnight. This fresh collaboration between frontman Jesse Nolan, drummer Stephen Edelstein, and Tessa Thompson has an undeniably appropriate name; Caught a Ghost’s kaleidoscopic sound cuts across genres, capturing spectral connections in their richly layered soundscape. Their catchy “Sleeping At Night” overlays a contemporary electronica beat with Nolan’s grounded vocals, soulful backup harmonies, and countermelodies from an old school horn section.  The smooth R&B blend of Nolan’s and Thompson’s voices in “No Sugar in My Coffee” had the audience singing, swaying, and holding their hands up high as the night drew to a close.

Cosmic Prom did culminate in the selection of a prom king and queen – but this was no high school popularity contest. The most innovative costumes and creative personalities were rewarded with a crown and a slow dance. But really, the entire party had already been rewarded by the fearless artistry and bold cross-disciplinary collaboration of Cosmic Prom’s organizers.  Here’s hoping this interactive, immersive event becomes an annual affair.




One response

29 08 2011
Ed Lantz

Loved the event! Thanks to all for producing this at the dome!

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