Below Sea Level comes from the tradition of cycloramas, or panoramic paintings spanning 360 degrees. In Pawel Wojtasik’s technological update, viewers enter the thirty-five foot diameter, twelve-foot tall cylindrical structure, and, once inside, experience a video panorama composed of a revolving, watery landscape with the skyline of the city of New Orleans in the distance.
In the center of the cylinder there was a round bench and after a few moments the piece captivated us. We sat back to back turning our heads this way and that as the action moved from oil rigs to bayou to levee to parade. Nearly wordless, the film built tension and emotion by pulling in to different neighborhoods and then pulling back, an underlying watery music tying the realms together. This was the best piece in the museum. The screen took advantage of the museum’s acreage- so many different pieces playing at once, but this had its own darkened room up a back staircase.