Brass-and-wood spyglasses, the kind that you raise to an eye and hold steady, have long been a prominent feature in fiction, and fantasy fiction, too, where the device is imbued with special powers.
Rather than just seeing across a sizable distance, or to the horizon, a fantasy spyglass allows the user to observe activity across epic stretches, thousands of miles, even. Turns out The Annenberg Space for Photography has a magical across-the-distance thing going, in the form of a new live cam experience built for observing the polar bear migration.
Polar bears are another fantastic fantasy element, but these furry, big-of-paws are real, and currently roaming our planet in the Arctic. Pearls of the Planet is the name of the new earth-appreciative experience, and it's on at the Century City-based, image-filled institution through March 16, 2016.
What to do, where to go and what to see
On at Skylight Studios, let's add, the spacious studio a few steps away from The Annenberg. The distance between Skylight Studios, though, and its parent building is far, far less than the spans and stretches covered by the live cams, cameras "connected around the world that allow you to observe the natural splendors of the planet."
True, we can access a host of live cams from any device we hold or held by our desks. But this display is highly state-of-the-art, complete with "immersive photo booths" that capture "the sights and sounds" of the migrating giants of the north.
Really cool #1: There's a posing opportunity, featuring "a life-size bear amidst swirling snow." Bring your camera. (We know you're probably have it in your pocket already.)
Really cool #2: There's a hashtag for your photos and visit, created to spread polar bear love far, wide, and with a mighty roar across social media. It's #explorepearls.
Really cool #3: Admission is free, though validated parking at the studio is a few bucks.
Really cool #4: This is the Arctic, so, yeah, that's totally cool in several senses of the word.
Charles Annenberg Weingarten, of the Annenberg family, is behind "explore.org," a site that boasts "the largest collection of nature live cams in the world." Nature live cams take us there, to the grizzlies catching salmon and to the eucalyptus trees covered in Monarch butterflies and to the tippy-top of the planet where polar bears cover huge swaths of icy tundra during their migration.
No, they don't cover as huge a distance as LA to the Arctic, but the Pearls of the Planet experience seeks to squash those many miles, accordion-style, like a fantasy spyglass might, to bring us all a little closer to the beautiful bears of the north.
Live-camming our connection reminds us, in a powerful visual fashion, that whatever errand we're running or meeting we're in, somewhere a polar bear is also doing his daily thing. So much of admiring nature from afar is asynchronous, but admiring it as it happens is both highly synchronous and splendid.