Cosmic Zoom

Maslow’s emphasis that in peak experiences “the whole universe is perceived as an integrated and unified whole” reminded me of how I felt when I first saw this Canadian short film while taking a film-making class at Portland State:

Watching it may not have been a peak experience, but it was certainly one of those “aha” artistic moments when an artist expresses a thought you’ve held but never quite been able to articulate. The power of the spell it cast on me is attested to by the fact that reading Maslow immediately made me think of the movie, and I could still remember it vividly enough to find it after a short search on the web (with a little help from friend Mike).

5 thoughts on “Cosmic Zoom”

  1. Here’s a more scientifically faithful representation of the cosmic zoom portion of the video:

    Description: “‘The Known Universe’ takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world’s most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History. The new film, created by the Museum, is part of an exhibition, Visions of the Cosmos: From the Milky Ocean to an Evolving Universe, at the Rubin Museum of Art in Manhattan through May 2010.”

    In the microscopic direction, here’s an award winning animation depicting the marvelous components of living cells:

    “The Inner Life of a Cell”

  2. Here’s the Eames “Powers of Ten” movie from 1968:

    Not too sure of my Roman numerals — is that the same year as “Cosmic Zoom”? The Eames film is stylish as you might expect, but seems to me to suffer from the pedantic narration. “Cosmic Zoom” has a nice romantic feel. Thanks for sharing it. (“The Known Universe” is also very nice! Thanks for letting us know about it, Mr. L.)

  3. Yes, Jeff, they both came out in the same year, apparently both being based on the same book.

    I still prefer Cosmic Zoom. Whether because I saw it first or because I didn’t like the narration on the Eames movie isn’t clear to me.

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