Tuesday, October 10, 2006

We're going way out (that's where the fun is)

Obscene Desserts wishes its readers a very happy Powers of Ten Day. And what better way to celebrate than to watch this excellent film from Charles and Ray Eames.

Many thanks to Bad Science - where you will also find a Simpsons version - for bringing this to my attention. I recall seeing the film a few times as a child, both in school (back when that required a real film projector...you know, the kind that would occasionally melt what we were watching) and - I think - at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.

This film brings back especially fond memories, as the picnic with which it opens is at just about the spot where my parents and I would often have our own picnics in the mid 70s and early 80s. In those days not only could you enjoy watching the lake and visiting the nearby Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum, but you could watch small planes flying in and out right over your head from the (now sadly closed) Meigs Field. What more could a little boy want?

Back then, I didn't realise that the makers of Powers of Ten were such amazing designers and architects. Of course, at that point I probably wouldn't have cared. But the film did make an impression. I remember being struck by the idea of the incomprehensible massiveness of the universe and the smallness of things like atoms. (A feeling of wonder which probably passed quickly as we then raced outside to try to injure one another by throwing rubber balls as hard as we could at each other. However, dodgeball, for all its faults, was perhaps a great - if painful - way to regain some feeling of significance in the great universal scale of things.)

I think it's a wonderful idea for a holiday: let's all take a moment or two (or ten) to contemplate - and celebrate - our fundamental irrelevance.

How long, I wonder, till it appears on a Hallmark card?

Hopefully by 2010.

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