I’m often struck by how transformative a place the Getty is. Throughout the day a great deal can change. While the crowds do come and go, I’m often most transfixed by the subtle shifts of light, the surprising movement of shadow, and the delicate sounds of the breeze through foliage. These things make me see the Getty Center and the Getty Villa as sites of inspiration. I am confronted by these environments in surprising ways daily that make me see them in a new light.
I turned my attention to the Outer Peristyle at the Getty Villa to try and capture what I could of the ever-changing atmosphere. I set up a still camera for 15 hours to document the gardens from sunrise to sunset, snapping a picture three times a minute. I formed the over 2,500 images taken that day into this time-lapse video of the garden.
Before filming day, I worried it might be a tedious day. I expected to sit on a bench and fantasize about having cell service as I listened to the incremental timer capture freeze frames of the gardens.
But with every 20-second click I was off, investigating a chirping noise in the trees, or rolling in the gravel perfecting an angle of the sky, or coercing a droplet of water to fall into frame. It was a day of enhanced perception; a day of exploration of the environment’s effects on the mind. Have you noticed the cobwebs behind the ears of the busts? Or the colorful, iridescent quality of the travertine platform on which the Drunken Satyr reclines? Or the beautiful, flickering light patterns on the terrazzo floors at high noon? Or the way the rectangular expanse of the gardens becomes an arena for observation? With each lap, a new sight revealed itself.
My 15-hour stroll through the gardens didn’t make me an expert. It did, however, make me more aware of the infinite amount of sensory possibility present in even the most constructed of outdoor environments. And while I don’t claim to be an authority on the matter, I must admit that witnessing the moment where the lanterns flicker on as the dark cerulean skies melt into purple, and then into black, is one not to be missed.