Do you know what your wish is? A man, sharply dressed in a grey plaid suit and black glasses, asks hastily. With a corded phone glued to his shoulder, he juggles between my in-person request, and that of a second man put on hold. Category: personal, professional, global, altruistic…? He continues to rattle off categories, but I already know it’s the first one. Personal, I interrupt. I had a feeling, he responds. As he scribbles notes on a pad of paper, I notice the office décor is clearly set in the past: folders spill forth with paper, filing systems denoted with little place cards, and a nostalgic No Smoking sign. His words break my concentration: Good luck – and please don’t tell anyone your wish specifically. As quickly as I sat down, he returns to the phone call and I am ushered forward into a room filled with CRT monitors displaying one prompt: Wish-Tek 2000, press RETURN to begin. Dandelions Dandelions Dandelions
For three days only, The Department of Small Things That Float on the Wind invites guests to their latest installation: the transformation of a working power substation into a whimsical wish-factory focused on the growth, categorization, and processing of dandelions and the wishes associated with them. Aptly named Dandelions, this free forty-minute experience combines wonderfully interactive immersive elements with the beauty and surrealist nature of their backdrop. Night Life LA may drop the be present mantra that many immersive experiences live by and allow guests to have their phones out in Dandelions, constantly taking pictures of each unique room – but Dandelions is elevated beyond your traditional Instagram Palace. The depth here is brought forward by the nuances and details.
These small touches are common among other experiences by this anonymous art collective. Whether it’s the renewal of a concrete factory into a floral paradise, the repair of a fire-ravaged region with a golden touch, or a ninety-minute hike into the alien world of bioluminescent plankton, their main goal is to connect Angelenos through poetic disruptions of everyday life – and Dandelions is no exception. This experience is hallmarked by the marriage of whimsy and poetry interlaced with the process and procedure of a nameless, shapeless corporation. Specifically, wishes with no home rain down from two suction tubes in the ceiling, as a line printer spits out elegiac statements: it’s the light that breaks hearts in LA and LA feels like only a half-formed city. Taking a page from the sorely missed Alone, Dandelions feels surreal, abstract, a bit enigmatic, and ultimately, elevatingly beautiful.
How guests wish to experience Dandelions is an individual choice. Many will simply traverse its concrete walls, collecting digital memories, another piece of beauty amongst the concrete walls of Los Angeles. But those that wish for something deeper, something more profound, there’s some serious depth hidden among meaningful set design and powerful acting. An eager woman collecting and stamping tickets from the Division of Wishful Thinking provides witty and clever banter, an off-limits room designated Shift Lepidopterist Staff Only offers a peek into the growth of dandelions and the butterflies that spread their seed, a map of Los Angeles invites guests to write and pin an abandoned wish of their own to the location of their loss, and a yellow-bandanaed woman snips a dandelion so that you may deposit your wish in one of three suction-tubes: Slum dunks, long shots, and coin tosses.
Also, for those eagle-eyed guests, it’s lovely to notice that almost all of the women are dressed in white tops with black dots (much like the dandelions dotting the experience), while everyone has some level of grey plaid reminiscent of crisscrossing streets of the city of Los Angeles. Again, it’s the attention of detail that creates a cohesive feel throughout, connecting form and function.
Dandelions has perfectly captured the fleeting nature of a dandelion, a wish, and an experience existing for only three days. Los Angeles is a city of dreamers, wishing for so much, and while some are simply coin tosses and others are slam dunks, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air to reflect on those wishes; to take a moment of silence for the wishes we’ve abandoned and an even longer moment to think of the wishes we currently want. Whether this experience plants a seed of desire in your heart or simply provides a small respite of beauty from the corporate hustle of the city, I can say with certainty that Dandelions is truly an immersive wish come true.
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