Prof. Hans-Christian von Herrmann: Planetarium History – 10th Fulldome Festival Diary

The undeniable thing that’s brought us, professionals and fulldome enthusiasts alike, to a small, nice German town is, of course, planetariums – and our shared love towards this medium. But have the attendees really thought about the long way planetariums went from mere scientific institutions to full-fledged immersive theaters? At least, Prof. Hans-Christian von Herrmann has done it. During the first Festival Day, Prof. Hans-Christian von Herrmann presented the outcome of his research project on the cultural history of planetariums in a form of a fulldome feature film titled „I feel air from another planet...“. The video was conducted at Technische Universität Berlin in cooperation with Planetarium Hamburg.
Visual demonstration

Visual demonstration during Prof. Hans-Christian von Herrmann's workshop.

The story starts in a balmy summer night under the starry heavens of the 18th century Germany and ends up with the space travel hype and the psychedelic movie-drome experience of the 1960s. Thus the planetarium, initially invented as a device for astronomical demonstrations, finally turns out to be a training ground for what it means to live a life totally immersed in technology. Prof. Hans-Christian von Herrmann has made the audience rethink the value and purpose of planetariums. Is it still a place for astronomical demonstration? Yes – and no one can deny it. But planetarium is also evolving along the world around us. Today we can enjoy a high level of immersion, and feel both visually and acustically involved in the story projected on the dome. We must say that the producers chose perfect visuals to express their ideas. Although the fulldome projection kept the stage of the classic planetarium, it expanded the space around. The beginning sequence showing the solar system in the form of wooden machine also caught our full attention. And effective sound just added a finishing touch to the overall images.
Herrmann's presenting

Prof. Hans-Christian von Herrmann presenting his fulldome film „I feel air from another planet…“.
Photo credit: FullDome Festival

However, this film was neither a documentary, nor a historical show. It was a certain way to bring the history of planetariums inside a planetarium with an extremely rich history (no pun intended), which is Zeiss-Planetarium Jena. Maybe the film could seem to be obscure for the people who aren’t involved into the fulldome, but all the same it shows the understanding that rules have changed, and we must move ahead to spark new development of planetarium as educational and entertaining media. The only limit here is our imagination and persistence! Stay with us to get more inside information on the oldest and best-known Fulldome Festival!

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