How do we know what we'll see at a science or art or cultural institution before we decide to go?
There are a few common paths to boning up on what we can expect. We can browse through a brochure, or scan a web site, or ask a pal, or ponder a visit simply by the design of the banners hanging from lightposts around town.
But there's a different way to become familiar with Pearls of the Planet, which is currently on view at Skylight Studios, a space that's adjacent to, and a part of, The Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City.
The distinctively transportive display, which gives viewers a live look at polar bears as they trundle about the Arctic, is on view through March 16, complete with an immersive, "icy" setting meant to summon that top-of-the-world feel.
But to find that feel ahead of your Annenberg Space visit check out KCET on Wednesday, Dec. 2. Explore.org, the epic project from Charles Annenberg Weingarten, has compiled some amazing clips of polar-bear-tastic heart-tugging-ness.
The "compiled footage from high-definition cameras placed in the Arctic" features "snuggly polar bears, snowy owls, foxes and stunning landscape shots completely uninterrupted by humans."
Like The Annenberg experience, the Link TV broadcast special is called Pearls of the Planet. The show is stripped of music or narration, lending a definite you-are-there-ness to the viewing (a viewing that includes views of Hudson Bay, the Aurora Borealis, and the many marvelous earthlings that occupy the colder clime).
Explore.org captures high-definition footage from webcams tucked away in several corners of the natural world. But while many of us dream of traveling to a rainforest or vast desert, the Arctic remains more mysterious and out of our sphere.
It is on our sphere, of course -- this planet, here and now -- and you can visit it twice, asap, in high-def brilliance. Once via KCET, at 10 p.m. on Dec. 2, and at The Annenberg Space for Photography through the middle of March 2016.