A Fantastic Voyage – Charles And Ray Eameses ‘Powers Of Ten’

Charles and Ray Eames (Photo via Library of Congress)

Charles and Ray Eames (Photo via Library of Congress)

Charles Ormond Eames, Jr and Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Eames were American designers who worked in and made major contributions to modern architecture and furniture. They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art and film.
– Wikipedia

That’s a very brief and simplified summation of the amazing accomplishments of Charles and Ray Eames. Entire tomes could be written about each area of their influence – indeed, such is the case. But today we’ll only look at one of their really mind expanding projects – the 1968 documentary short film, Powers Of Ten.

…rereleased in 1977. The film depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten…The film is an adaptation of the 1957 book Cosmic View by Kees Boeke, and more recently is the basis of a new book version. Both adaptations, film and book, follow the form of the Boeke original, adding color and photography to the black and white drawings employed by Boeke in his seminal work.
– Eames Office

Powers Of Ten is an amazing journey to the outer reaches of space back to the deep reaches of inner space. In fact, this is what makes it so mind blowing – by traveling through every scale the viewer is left with a wondrous realization of how relative our experience of reality is.

Sounds like pretty heady stuff, and it is, but this is what makes the Eameses film so marvelous. In Powers Of Ten, the complex becomes simple. Instead of struggling with convoluted philosophical details regarding the relativity of perception, the viewer is taken on a visual adventure that brings it all home. In fact, this is the signature of Charles and Ray Eameses work in every field – making the complex easier to perceive and enjoy.

If by the end of the film you wish to explore more of this fascinating subject, the Eames Office has set up a terrific interactive website sponsored by IBM. You’ll find it by clicking here.

So, without further ado, this is Powers Of Ten:

Directors: Charles Eames, Ray Eames
Running time: 9 minutes
Narrated by: Phil Morrison
Music composed by: Elmer Bernstein
Story by: Charles Eames, Kees Boeke