35 years on, Eames and IBM film "Powers of Ten" continues to inspire
Delaney Turner 270003RQ8K Delaney.Turner@ca.ibm.com | | Tags:  ibmsoftware
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As Slate's James Hughes writes: "the guiding principle of Powers of Ten is that every 10 seconds our distance from the initial scene—the couple in Chicago, captured in an aerial shot 10 meters wide—becomes 10 times greater before reversing course to explore the galaxies within the human body. Endlessly imitated in commercials and Hollywood films (Men in Black and Contact among them) and predating Google Earth (and Google Mars) by decades, the zoom continues to captivate viewers, leaving them either awed or overwhelmed by journey’s end."
The Eameses work is back in the news due to the launch of Beautiful Details, a new book exploring their legacy that Hughes says "will enliven, or perhaps leave you questioning, your coffee table and the furniture that surrounds it." The book was developed by Eames Demetrios, grandson of Charles and Ray and principal of the Eames Office, a gallery and educational space now located in Santa Monica, Calif.
The Eameses have a long history with IBM. In 1961, IBM sponsored an exhibition at the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles, commissioning the Eameses to develop an interactive installation on mathematics. Called Mathematica: A World of Numbers...and Beyond, the 3,000 square foot installation inspired a generation to embrace science, math and technology.
The popularity of the exhibit culminated in a replica being exhibited at the 1964 New York World's Fair. The large-scale mathematics timeline is still on display at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, NY, and the Museum of Science in Boston, Mass. A smaller, poster-sized version of the timeline is still displayed in classrooms and museums around the world.
Earlier this year, IBM collaborated again with the Eames Office on the free "THINK" iPad app, which contains many of these joint works.
Slate's Hughes continues: In Beautiful Details, Demetrios notes that Eames films were never outsourced. “[Charles and Ray] never hired a film production company to make the films for them—even a technical tour de force like Powers of Ten.”
Having harnessed the collective brainpower of the Eames Office, the film was completed with the financial support of IBM, which shared Charles and Ray’s concern that American students were falling behind in math and science and needed to be stimulated."