Speculations (Los Angeles), 3 quasi-astronomical surveys of the interiors of an observatory
The Griffith Observatory, located on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood and dedicated to observing the stars, is as much an icon as an institution of Los Angeles. This status has earned it memorable bit-parts numerous local movies, for example: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Terminator (1984), The End of Violence (1997). In the last example, the observatory concealed the control room of a sinister surveillance system covering the whole city with innumerable cameras. In ‘real life’ the observatory is a popular attraction offering public telescopes, planetarium shows narrated by science-fiction stars and an impressive view of the city. The Griffith Observatory, the institution claims, ‘is woven from the same cloth as that of Los Angeles itself’. By means of the technological and symbolic apparatus of telescopes, projectors framed in a temple-like architecture, dreams of higher knowledge merge with sensational entertainment, and popular enlightenment is constructed as mechanical simulation. While the observatory offers hazy views of the heavens through public telescopes and a simulated sky in the planetarium, the real spectacle remains the city itself.