If you’re a dome devotee, it’s a wonderful time to be alive. First off, next month, Roulette will present The Love Song of R. Buckmister Fuller, in which images from the life and work of the dome-obsessed designer will be paired with live narration from filmmaker Sam Green and live music by Yo La Tengo. According to a review of an earlier performance at The Kitchen, the “live documentary” takes us inside of the geodesic dome that Fuller designed for Expo 67 in Montreal. (UPDATE, Nov. 1: This event has been canceled and may be rescheduled at a later date.)
If you don’t want to wait till Dec. 17 or don’t have $25-$50 to shell out for tickets, there’s another dome experience to be had for free in Soho. On the corner of Canal and Varick, the four domes we marveled at last week have finally been completed and National Geographic is now welcoming the public into an installation promoting its forthcoming docu-drama show, Mars.
I daresay the interactive exhibit is out of this world: In the first dome, there are model recreations of three of NASA’s Mars rovers. Sorry, you can’t drive these, but there are plenty of hands-on experiences to be had: In the second dome, you can strap into a cable robot, put on a pair of VR goggles, and get hoisted into the air for a bumpy simulation of a Mars landing. When I visited, the thinking man’s amusement park ride was being tried out by Stephen Petranek, author of How We’ll Live on Mars, and Dr. Robert D. Braun, a space systems engineer who has had a hand in various Mars missions (both are featured in the show along with Elon Musk and other space cases).
In a third dome, you can step onto an anti-gravity treadmill to see what Mars’ 38-percent gravity feels like. Basically, the bottom half of your body is zipped into a suit that is cooled and pressurized to make you feel ever-so-slightly floaty, while VR goggles simulate the Martian landscape.
The fourth and final dome gives you a taste of Olympus Town, the fictional Mars colony established on the show. You can stick your hand into a spacesuit-like glove that’s built into a vacuum chamber, to see just how hard it is for Mars explorers to complete simple tasks like loosening a bolt.
Also on display are space suits like the ones that appear in the show, in case you’re looking for Halloween-costume inspiration. But I say go as one of Ziggy Stardust’s Spiders from Mars.
Apparently there’s going to be a private party at the activation tonight. No idea whether there’ll be a performance by Bruno Mars.
“Experience MARS” open through Oct. 29, noon to 7pm, at the corner of Canal and Varick Streets; free.