“…the architecture is outlandish, the landscaping is outstanding and the views are breathtaking.” Michał Murawski, The Calvert Journal.
Last week’s introduction to Zaryadye concerned its sculpted landforms, the hybrid forest in miniature and the organically-contoured lacing of steel and glass that define the outer performance enclosures. All this is just for starters though; the designers sought to double the possibilities of this prime-location, 32 acre site, and did so with a subterranean layer of surprises worthy of investigation.
Not your usual spectacle
When reading about the scope of the exhibits on offer, it quickly becomes clear that the various installations have been taken to a level beyond the expected in an attempt to create something truly unique. Take the Media Centre, for example, and contrast it with various audio-visual displays that you may have experienced before. I’m sure we’ve all visited darkened rooms containing a projection screen, several monitors, and rows of free-standing boards resplendent with stapled sheets of A4.
In contrast, Zaryadye offers a hall of hi-res, panoramic 360° video, 5 metres high and with multichannel sound. This is just for one of the installations on offer incidentally. Here, visitors are assailed from all sides with custom-designed technical expertise whilst they freely stroll around the exhibition space, drawn to whatever region of projected footage appeals.
As if sight and sound were not enough, the installation also generates smoke, currents of air, and appropriate smells to complement the audio-visual content.
Dramatic and cinematic
This Time Machine show (one of three large scale attractions in the centre) is a dramatic, cinematic extravaganza, featuring a cast of hundreds, that documents the diverse and chaotic history of Russia from its inception as a nation, to life during the Communist era.
A more sedate experience is available in another exhibition space that features a guide to Russian landscape paintings of the 19th and 20th Centuries, the numerous artists producing them and the development of their pictorial style. Then, inevitably another high-concept, immersive techo-excursion: Soaring, awaits that strives to deliver the sensation of real flight above Moscow’s urban span. It’s parks, landmarks and iconic, historical architecture are visited by air, all on a massive, 13 metre high “semi-spherical” screen.
Here, the wind generators are on overdrive, no doubt. A range of ticket prices are available for all shows depending upon a visitor’s age and concession, but the general range is from 150 – 790 Rubles at the time of writing. That’s roughly 1.7 – 9 GBP or 2 – 12 USD.
The call of nature
Contrasting with the high-tech showcases above is something a considerably more organic and peaceful (the art history show notwithstanding). It’s the Nature Centre, based around two complementary sections; the Biolabs and the Florarium.
The former offers a range of educational programs for all ages concerning such topics as the growing of plants when removed from their natural environments (and relocated to Mars!) to the role of microbes, the study and manipulation of their genetic structure, and more. Animal life does get a mention too, when the Tree of Life is examined and the works of Darwin analysed.
The Florarium also features experimentation, but is structured as a tiered hot-house where guided excursions lead the visitors around the ranks of heat-loving flora within. It must be pointed out that the courses and programs are in Russian only – but why not? It’s their country after all.
Next week: perhaps I’ll finally cover most, if not all, of Zaryadye Park?