Superpowers of Ten. An Alternative Version of “Powers of Ten” by Charles and Ray Eames


In 1977, Ray and Charles Eames produced »Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effects of Adding Another Zero«. An exploration of daily life at different scales – from a molecule of skin to the outer edges of the Milky Way – the Eames’ film was beautifully designed and produced, and for decades has been used as an educational tool in schools across Europe and the United States. Yet the selective framing and narrative of »Powers of Ten«, which centers on a couple having a picnic on Chicago’s lakefront, presents a linear progression of scenes and images in which abrupt jumps in scale and the interaction between genes, bodies, societies, and technologies appear frictionless and apolitical.

Developed by architect Andrés Jaque and the Office for Political Innovation, »SUPERPOWERS OF TEN« is an operatic, large-scale performance that offers a reinterpretation of the Eames’ »Powers of Ten«. In the performance Jaque and the Office for Political Innovation re-enact the film, revealing alternative narratives, political conflicts, and forgotten historical events. New characters such as Kodak’s »Shirley Card«, polio, and the transgender pioneer Flawless Sabrina are invited to star together with the picnickers, clusters of galaxies, and human DNA that are featured in the Eames’ original film. »SUPERPOWERS OF TEN« critically denies the possibility of framing daily life as contained by a Universe automatically accountable through science, to reclaim the beauty of multiverses constructed out of politics.

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