The 'Aspect Ratio' exhibition in Tent, part of the IFFR, takes as its point of departure the 1977 classic 'Powers of 10'. Inspired by the Dutch book 'Cosmic View' by Kees Boeke, the film remains a fascinating illustration of scale, "from outer galaxy to inner atom". It is also far more effective than any of the other works in the exhibition in showing how
The human eye has long since ceased to be the reference with which to observe the world. Our powers of imagination are continually being surpassed by scientific images of the imperceptible.
'Powers of 10' zooms out from a man in a park in Chicago by progressive powers of ten (i.e. adding a zero) every ten seconds, to reveal the city, the earth, the solar system, the milky way, etc., until the limits of observation at 1024 meters (100 million light-years). The film then zooms back in all the way to the man in the park, and through the skin of his hand to reveal cells, DNA, atoms, etc, until at 10-16 meters (0.1 fermis) the protons and neutrons inside a carbon nucleus form another limit of observation.
Quite vertiginous to ponder is how similar they look, the vast astronomical space and the tiny subatomic space. Both limits have been pushed back a bit further since the '70s, through dizzying concepts like the observable universe and quarks, and it seems to get more humanly inconceivable the further we probe...