Written by Emily Ford

CU Boulder campus will without a doubt be buzzing with activity this Saturday but, if you’re looking to escape the commencements look no further than the Fiske Planetarium where local artist Sam Stevens will share his culmination of passion and artistry for a limited audience. Sam has been working for almost ten years to create a nearly three-dimensional musical journey through awe-inspiring nature photography and graphic arts. Sam’s love of nature and music will be on display in the dome for a remarkably inspiring journey you will not want to miss. 360 photography has just now begun to take off in the visual art world but contrary to popular methods, he uses unique innovation and a very particular technique designed using his own algorithm. Instead of taking one photo with a 360 camera, he takes up to a thousand photos and paints the images together using a plethora of digital editing programs, maintaining that the final image is left warp-free surrounding the walls and ceiling for your viewing enjoyment. In addition to the visual aesthetics, three artists, including Sam himself, will be performing live melodic downtempo music while thoughtfully guiding you through an array of gorgeous scenery. The Dome of Dreams is truly a one-of-a-kind adventure for your senses, experience it for yourself this Saturday May 13 at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, event begins at 9 pm and music stops at 1 am.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Sam and ask him a few questions about The Dome of Dreams and here is what I learned:

This is a relatively new art form to the public, what struggles have you encountered while trying to carve a niche for yourself in this industry? “A lot of people see me as a photographer. I am a photographer but for me, my technique is such an important thing to focus on. It’s pretty unique in the sense that I go out and take hundreds sometimes thousands of pictures of one place and then go into the computer and hand paint all these images together using an interactive paintbrush called a Wacom pen. So I’m digitally painting together hundreds of images until its finally one seamless image.” How long does this whole process take? “It usually takes months. I’m getting faster, my record is 5 and a half years for one piece and it’s probably one of my greatest accomplishments as an artist. It was all photographed in Silverton, CO and its a timelapse that has all the seasons changing in one place. I’ve spent a lot of time curating the order of scenes for the concert to build a journey through the experience” How did you come to learn these techniques? “I like to believe we’re never self-taught because a lot of what we teach ourselves still comes from related things we’ve learned from people in the world. However, I did originally discover and develop the majority of the key techniques I use on my own. And I recently did an artist residency program in Fort Collins, CO that polished my skills and allowed me to see that my work could transfer flawlessly into a planetarium. Everything on the computer is somewhat irrelevant until I see it up on the dome and that was a very life changing experience.” What inspires you to create your music? “Music has always been one of the biggest influences in my life and I always dreamed of being a successful musician when I was younger. I grew up as a punk rocker and metal head and played in several bands as a kid and professionally recorded 6 ‘ridiculous’ albums by the age of 18 but since have fallen in love with classical music and Jazz, hip hop and some rap. Sigur Rós’ Untilted album, Menos El Oso by Minus the Bear and Juturna by Circa Survive have always been my favorite albums and had great influences in both my visual and musical creations.” What artists are you listening to right now? “Bonobo’s new album Migration “on repeat”, The Monogahela, Emancipator, Blackmill, Polish, Bluetech, Janover and Koda; his album called “Myrina” has got to be one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard come out of the electronic music industry.”


Lineup: XerephineThe Monogahela, Esperas