Bella Gaia launches audiences into an orbit around Earth
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2012 11:05
Tabbed as an audiovisual fusion performance, Bella Gaia touched down at the Miller Outdoor Theater on April 21. I vehemently stretched my neck in a languid attempt to peer over thousands of fellow Hermann Park onlookers to watch the astronaut-inspired performance. The performance was designed collaboratively by NASA and music producer Kenji Williams to theatrically mimic the effects of outer space flight.
I sat atop what is perhaps Houston’s only hill, eating my Chipotle burrito bowl as I looked on in awe amidst whiffs of cigarette smoke and concession stand grease. This was Houston’s Earth Day precursor event, which in all its enshrouding irony was designed to garner public awareness of a new anthropocentric epoch, in which humans now become the primary source of environmental change.
In short, Bella Gaia had “Condescending Wonka meme” material written all over it, but sometimes we humans like to bask in our own hypocrisy. However, the show did effectively showcase humanity’s tremendous and often deleterious effects on the environment. Through its use of raw-earth video footage, audience members were blasted off on a guided tour of our wounded Earth. This was accomplished through a massive backdrop screen loaded with footage of the untainted natural world and compelling NASA visualizations. Through a rare convergence of the arts and sciences, this “next level” multimedia event stayed culturally relevant through various performances and musical traditions. As viewers visually traveled around the globe, they also witnessed the different dances and songs that are representative of several countries. One performance featured a beautiful Egyptian dance, while another debuted a performance which included the producer’s four-month-old daughter. This was a scene most symbolic of the importance of preserving Earth: for future generations. It almost made me cry, or at the least, consider recycling.
In short, this six-piece ensemble told an interwoven story depicting the complex relationship between humans and nature.
“Bella Gaia shows you how humans and nature are connected, and how art and science are connected,” Williams said. “It’s an exploration of the relationship between human civilization and our ecosystem.”