Exterior view of the Griffith Observatory, with a large outdoor concrete sculpture of a group of six people on all sides of the monument.

Pacific Standard Universe

This 23-minute digital film explores the ways people have represented the cosmos across time and cultures. Traditional diagrams and models of the universe may have been rooted in astronomical observation, but they were intended as symbolic images of cosmic order rather than accurate pictures of the universe. In ancient cosmologies the universe changed slowly, or not at all. In scientific cosmology, change is continuous. Though we now examine and express cosmology primarily through mathematics, we still routinely describe and explain it through metaphor, analogy, animation, and illustration, just as our ancestors did.

Pacific Standard Universe
explores how cosmological symbols from ancient times (the Aztec Calendar Stone or the Chumash pictographs in southern California) and the imagery produced by the observatories and aerospace industry of California have transformed our perception of the universe. The film is related to the cosmology exhibition at LACMA and will debut at the Observatory in 2024 as part of its ongoing programming.

Griffith Observatory at Dusk. Griffith Observatory, David Pinsky. ©Griffith Observatory.

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