The effect of adding another zero
April 23, 2009 10:02 PM   Subscribe

The ultimate Eamesian (previously, twice) expression of systems and connections, Powers of Ten explores the relative size of things (previously) from the microscopic to the cosmic. The 1977 film travels from an aerial view of a man in a Chicago park to the outer limits of the universe directly above him and back down into the microscopic world contained in the man's hand. But in 1977, this view of the world in leaps and bounds was already 20 years old. Kees Boeke, Dutch educator and pacifist, wrote the essay Cosmic View, which provided the source for Powers of 10. The whole essay was put online 41 years later, and it's still online, if you can't find a physical copy around.
posted by filthy light thief (12 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, that is a blue whale next to the girl in the second frame. And after reading about powers of ten, I had to listen to 808 State's song 10 x 10.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:03 PM on April 23, 2009

When I was a kid I used to check out Cosmic View from the library every few weeks. It's probably the book I've read the greatest number of times. A classic of which Powers of Ten is a pale shadow.
posted by escabeche at 10:08 PM on April 23, 2009

Vaguely related: Cosmic Voyage (hulu video link) (wiki page) and Cosmic Zoom (wiki page).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:16 PM on April 23, 2009

The Simpsons version
posted by zippy at 11:10 PM on April 23, 2009

The Eames' films - in particular Powers of Ten - were among Will Wright's inspirations when he created SimCity. Far-reaching film ...
posted by WPW at 2:54 AM on April 24, 2009

Wow, thanks for this! I've been wanting to have my kids watch PoT but maybe I'll just track down a copy of CV instead. Or also.
posted by DU at 5:17 AM on April 24, 2009

Powers of Ten is on DVD, along with the original version of "Powers of Ten" entitled "A Rough Sketch for a Proposed Film Dealing with the Powers of Ten and the Relative Size of Things in the Universe" (8 min.), and "901: After 45 Years of Working" (1989, 29 min.), a record of the Eames Office at 901 Washington Boulevard in Venice, California and a document of its closing by filmmaker, Eames Demetrios (who I believe is the Eames' grandson). Unfortunately, physical copies of Cosmic View are selling for over $100 USD.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:04 AM on April 24, 2009

Not to gloat, but my library system has CV so I can just request it.
posted by DU at 8:33 AM on April 24, 2009

Woah- I saw this when I was really young, and it truly spurred my imagination and delight in scientific discovery.
posted by honest knave at 10:13 AM on April 24, 2009

I'd be very curious to know which came first, Powers of Ten or Bud Luckey's That's About the Size of It short from Sesame Street. They'd have to be right around the same time.
posted by darksasami at 10:20 AM on April 24, 2009

While That's About the Size of It was broadcast in 1975, two years before Powers of Ten was released, work on PoT was started in the 1968. I'm not sure if Bud Luckey would have started his short cartoon that early.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:01 PM on April 24, 2009

I salute the Eames! With "Powers of Ten" they carried through on the concept of Cosmic View.
I could never get funding for my own movie idea - "Powers of One".
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:10 PM on April 25, 2009

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