Powers of Ten
A man is sitting on a picnic blanket in a Chicago park on Lake Michigan. He is filmed from above. Every 10 seconds, the camera zooms out by a factor of 10: 10 meters becomes 100 meters, which then becomes 1,000, and so forth. Chicago comes into view, the United States, the whole of planet Earth, our solar system and finally the entire universe, with constellations floating around like clouds of cream in ink-black coffee. Then we travel in the other direction: back to the man on the blanket, we pass through white blood cells and DNA helices to the other extreme end of the scale: electrons. Powers of Ten was produced by designers Ray and Charles Eames. Their point of departure was the book Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps (1957) by Dutch educator Kees Boeke. This short film very effectively puts our place at the center of the world into perspective. In 1998, Powers of Ten was recognized as part of America’s cultural heritage and inducted into the Library of Congress.
Charles Eames, Ray Eames