Love Letters to Powers of Ten

One of the skills we teach our students at the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at USC is how to communicate information visually, so of course, two of our heroes are Charles and Ray Eames, the LA-based designers known for their cross-disciplinary design brilliance, which ranged from architecture to chair design to filmmaking. Their films, especially the iconic 9-minute Powers of Ten, still amaze our seen-it-all-before twentysomethings.

Made in 1968, Powers of Ten is deceptively simple, with the goal to show the scale of the universe. The pair played with different interfaces for the information across several years, finally arriving at a format that communicated the most information before crossing the line into dizzying distraction. The resulting film does what the best information visualizations do, namely convey the key information in a manner that is at once aesthetically dazzling and scientifically correct. Powers of Ten pulls this off visually and viscerally, catapulting viewers into space, and then zooming them quickly back inside the body of a hapless picnicker.

To recognize the film and spark creativity, the Core77 team is hosting a competition inviting 2-minute video responses to Powers of Ten. Your submission may be "a reinterpretation, a mash-up, a tribute, a reflection, a love letter," and if it's great and wins, you'll soon be relaxing in an Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair. The deadline is January 9, 2010.

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