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Monday 18 March 2019

LMNL at Onedome

A few weeks back the girls had a day off school so we decided to make the most of it and visit LMNL, an amazing new exhibition in San Francisco.

From the very moment you step off the street and into Onedome you are immersed in a world of art. One moment we were on a bustling city street. The next we found ourselves in a glowing environment reminiscent of the Everglades. A body of water fills the floor while glowing neon colored "plants" hang from the ceiling and line the walkways. A shack on stilts stands alone in the water watched over by a series of animals. From afar we see a giant cat, but the more we look at at the more we see. An owl, a bear, a cougar... all glowing in slowly changing pinks, blues and greens. Oh, and the water? It's real. Trust me - my kids made sure to check!

We then entered the ticket lobby where we were given wrist bands for the exhibition and left Mathilde's stroller behind the front counter. We made sure to visit the bathroom before entering the exhibition (always a must with kids) and then made our way down the stairs. Right by the entrance of the exhibition we found a room filled with lockers so we locked up our jackets and extra bags that we didn't need with us. These lockers are provided free of charge which is nice touch.

The locker room features an origami like art piece which changes color subtly depending on the light shining on it. It reminded me of crystals.

After securing our belongings in the lockers we made our way into the first room of the exhibition. What an introduction to the exhibition! This room features intricately carved lanterns hanging from the ceiling. The lanterns spin and sway when touched creating a room full of spinning geometric shadows. The girls were in absolute awe of the lanterns and the shadows they created. Sometimes that ran around the lanterns as they spun, while other times they laid quietly underneath looking up at the swirling shapes above. I've got to say that this was definitely my favorite room and I could've stayed in there all day - although it did make me feel a little dizzy!

Once I finally convinced the girls to move on from the first room we made our way to the next few rooms which feature large interactive screens. The first gives an impression of a grey fluid, almost mercury like, that moves in response to the movements of those in the room. The girls spent quite some time "moving" the digital fluid across the screen simply by waving their arms or running across the room - yet never actually touching it.

The next room was an even bigger hit with the kids. We were met with a screen featuring a mystical underwater scene. Upon entering the room our bodies appeared on the screen as silhouettes made of tiny bubbles. Our "bubble bodies" mirrored our every move as they jumped, ran and danced across the screen. Much to the girls' delight, they were able to interact with images on the screen. Glowing "balls" fall from above and with a little practice the girls worked out how to catch, hold, throw and kick these balls.

After catching and throwing an awful lot of glowing balls we moved onto the next room. This room is filled with optical illusions, from the black and white striped walls that appear to move, to the mirrored boxes that beg the question " Who is real and who is a reflection?". In one such mirrored box Ava and Lola stood on opposite sides and threw flower petals at each other - or who they thought was each other. Often they found themselves aiming for a reflection rather than a real person.

From optical illusions we moved onto a room filled with interactive sound. This particular room features large mesh panels with glowing lights around the edge of each. The girls weren't quite sure what to do at first, but after tapping one of the panels they discovered that it made music. Each panel makes a different sound, and the sound varies depending on how you make contact with the mesh. Hit it sharply and you'll get a short and sharp sound. Drag you hand along it as you run past and you'll get a longer sound. The girls had fun making music as they ran backwards and forwards along the panels.

The next room we visited features another interactive digital display. In this case the display features a waterfall that flows across the floor. Foam logs can be positioned to dam or direct the "water" flow.  The kids were able to go behind the waterfall and had a lot of fun "splashing about". Mathilde especially enjoyed undoing all of the damming work that Ava and Lola did!

The next room we visited was much smaller than the others and only made for one or two people to enter at a time, but it was definitely one of the most fun! This small mirrored room features a disco style light up floor that illuminates and changes color as you dance around to music. The floor is reflected on the walls and ceiling making for an amazing effect. The kids had a blast dancing in their own private disco, although there were a few times that they misjudged where the walls were!

Following on from our own private disco we made our way to another exhibit designed for one person at a time. This small alcove is filled with hundreds of glass tubes hanging from the ceiling, each one fill with glowing and color changing lights. It feels like entering a peaceful cave of colorful stalactites or icicles. Ava, Lola and I stood in the middle of the lights slowly spinning around to take them all in. Mathilde, however, sat down in the middle and meditated! By the way, the pink photo below of Ava has not been edited. That's exactly how my camera saw the scene - I think all of the light freaked out the sensor producing a very over exposed shot. I quite like it though!

The next two rooms that we explored feature interactive displays projected onto the walls and floor. The first room made amazing sparks on the ground as the girls ran around. When they jumped it was as if sparks shot out of the ground where they landed. It was pretty amazing. Mathilde ran around and around in circles while singing "Ring of Fire" while a virtual ring of fire followed her steps. I have no idea how she knows a Johnny Cash song! The sparks were more subtle on the walls, producing an effect that looked rather like the Milky way at times.

The digital effects in the next room were not quite so dramatic, but still awe inspiring. Here the patterns on the walls and floor change from flowers made of dots, swirling lines that create outlines of figures, patterns made of repetitive lines and dots, and large falling flowers. Each pattern reacts to movement in the room and the girls had fun pushing giant flowers around and creating swirled silhouettes of themselves.

The last room we visited in LMNL was the most peaceful of them all. Imagine staying in a comfy caravan or cabin on a rainy day with not a care in the world. That's how this room feels. We spread out on comfortable daybeds with big fluffy cushions while the sound of rain falling on the roof played above us. Screens on three walls act as windows to the view outside; one by the sea, one in a field and another by a river. It really was the most relaxing spot and I would've happily stayed there all day.

From here we left the exhibition and made our way back upstairs for a bite to eat and a hot drink from Elixart, the cafe in the lobby. Elixart features a menu of raw vegan treats and alcohol free mocktails, teas, and lattes made with plants based ingredients. The girls had almond milk hot chocolates and I had a tumeric latte. We shared raw brownies, a raw cinnamon roll and a raw key lime pie. All were delicious, but I have got to say that maybe not quite the most kid friendly treats. Definitely more for an adult palate.

While we ate our treats the kids played with colored shapes found on each table and Ava tested out the AR (augmented reality) controllers used in The Unreal Garden, another exhibition on display at Onedome. Due to age restrictions, we did not visit The Unreal Garden as neither Lola or Mathilde would have been able to take part. Ava enjoyed testing out the controllers in the lobby and we were able to see what she was "painting" with the controllers on a screen.

Before leaving Onedome we checked out a few of the displays in the lobby that we had skipped on our way in. We found more mirrored boxes like those inside and grand dragon statues among others. The lighting in this area is rather ambient and creates an otherworldly environment similar to that found in LMNL's exhibits.

Now for all the details you need to know...

LMNL is on display at Onedome, 1025 Market Street, San Francisco.

Opening hours are as follows:
Monday - Thursday 2pm - 10pm
Friday 12pm - 12am
Saturday 10am - 12am
Sunday 10am - 9pm

The exhibits in the lobby area and Elixart cafe are open to the public without a ticket. LMNL and The Unreal Garden require tickets.

Tickets for LMNL can be purchased online in advance at http://onedome.global/tickets/ Tickets for LMNL start at $33 for adults, $22 for youth (ages 11 - 17), and $11 for children (ages 3 - 10). Children under 3 are admitted free of charge. Tickets are non-refundable.

Tickets are timed and you must enter within 30 minutes of your allocated time slot.

The amount of time you spend in LMNL is up to you! Most guests spend between 45 and 90 minutes exploring the installations. A time limit of 2 hours applies - but I'm sure we were in there longer!

Strollers are not permitted in the exhibit areas but can be left at the front desk, space permitting.

Small lockers are available free of charge at the entrance of LMNL and are perfect for storing jackets etc.

Guests are given a wrist band upon checking in at the front desk. Make sure to keep your wrist band on should you need to exit for the bathroom and re-enter.

Unlike other pop up exhibits, guests are not required to follow a set path as they make their way through LMNL. The rooms do flow in a certain order, but should you wish to go back and spend more time in a particular room, or skip one for later should it be busy, it's not a problem.

For more information about LMNL, the artists displayed and ticketing visit http://onedome.global/


Have you been to LMNL? I'd love to hear what you thought. As you can probably guess, my girls and I loved it!

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