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Dead medium: the Mareorama; the Cineorama
From: (Soeren Pold)
Source(s): *The Panorama: History of a Mass Medium* by Stephan Oettermann, Zone Books, MIT Press, 1997
390 pages ISBN 0942299833

(((Soeren Pold remarks: It was a great pleasure to read about the Trans-Siberian Express Moving Panorama (Working Note 37.6). It is also described in the best book ever on the mother of all dead media, the panorama. The book is the fabulous "Das Panorama" by Stephan Oettermann, which has now been translated into English as "The Panorama: History of a Mass Medium." The book features some reports from the World Exhibition in Paris, 1900.

(((Oettermann (among other things) describes the Mareorama and the Cineorama. The Cineorama was a panoramic projection of a balloon ascent from Paris.

(((The Mareorama is described in an old Dutch article from "De Natuur," which is quoted in Oettermann on pages 179-181.)))

"The spectator himself is in motion and actually feels the roll and pitch of a ship while making a sea voyage by way of Nice, the Riviera, Sousses, Naples, Cape Pausilippe and Venice to Constantinople.

"The plan for the Mareorama presented two problems: two screens, each 2,500 feet long and forty feet in height, were to be unrolled, and a double, swinging movement was to be imparted to the spectator's platform, which was shaped like a ship. The mechanism required for this was conceived by Mr. Hogo d'Alesi, a well-known painter who specialises in rendering the most beautiful vistas for the posters of the large railway and shipping companies. The screen is also his work, painted after the sketches made by him during a voyage of one year especially made for the purpose.

"For eight months, a team of painters worked under him to transfer these to the 215,000 square feet of screen, which was to be unrolled before the visitor's eyes.

"One of the screens moves on the port side, the other on starboard. Both are coiled upon cylindrical reels situated near the ends of the building, where they are concealed from the view of the ship's passengers by sails and ornaments. In the engraving (fig. 3.19) one of the screens has been removed in its entirety to show the mechanism for the movement of the two screens, as well as one of the vertical cylinders round which the second screen will be rolled.

"These extremely heavy cylinders are supported by floats in a water-basin. To simulate the roll and pitch of a ship, and to impart these movements to the boat-deck carrying the spectators, it is supported by a system of Cardanic rings, similar to that used for accommodating ship's compasses. This involved the use of floats in water, hydraulic piston engines, and pumps driven by electric motors (fig 3.20).

"Few visitors to the Exhibition will be able to resist the temptation of this opportunity to make an inexpensive voyage which involves no hazard whatsoever, yet is so natural that one can even make acquaintance with the less agreeable sensation to which passengers on board ships are likely to be subjected. While this may also deter many, it is a reassuring thought that even on the high seas, amid the raging elements, one can get out and tread on terra firma at any moment."

(((Soeren Pold remarks: Oettermann's book of course also has the illustrations mentioned in this quote. Regarding the tone of the passage, it is remarkable how similar it is to descriptions of Virtual Reality a couple of years back, praising the naturalness and the technology. Probably VR will qualify as a dead medium in ten years, and descriptions of it will read just like the above.)))

(((bruces remarks: I especially admire the tactful 1900-style reference to the nausea of simulator sickness, an ailment with roots going back almost a hundred years.)))

Soeren Pold (