Design for Living

Best remembered for their path-breaking architectural and furniture work — the Eames chair, anyone? — the brilliant 20th-century husband-and-wife design team of Ray and Charles Eames also evinced a talent for filmmaking. Their métier was the nonfiction short, although they favored unexpected approaches (such as animation for 1961’s Mathematical Peep Show and a track-level P.O.V. for 1957’s Toccata for Toy Trains) to straightforward documentation. The Eames’ iconic and much-imitated (and parodied) 1968 film, Powers of Ten, is the center of attention today. This 9-minute encapsulation of the universe -- beginning with an atom in a Chicago park and bounding out in reverse zooms to the border of deep space -- was a simple, elegant representation of a once-unfathomable reality as well as a trigger for countless artists, communicators, and deep thinkers (no, we’re not thinking of the brains behind Google Earth). As one measure of the Eames’ contribution to our collective wisdom, the Library of Congress added Powers of Ten to the National Film Registry in 1998.
Oct. 10, 2 p.m., 2010

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