Powers and Superpowers of Ten


In 1977, Charles and Ray Eames produced Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effects of Adding Another. The Eameses’ film is a beautifully designed cinematographic experiment that presents daily life through a sequential journey of the universe’s vistas at different scales, ranging from a skin molecule, to the outer edges of the Milky Way. This iconic film has for decades been used as a pedagogical 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 zooms where scenes and images are cut by abrupt jumps in scale, resulting in a static, apolitical, and frictionless representation of the interaction of genes, bodies, societies, and technologies.

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