Most people recognise the names of husband and wife design duo Charles and Ray Eames because of their classic furniture designs. Pieces such as this have become very familiar to us as design classics:
But the Eames also had a huge impact on modern architecture, industrial and graphic design, manufacturing and, even turned their minds to devising puzzles, toys, puzzles, exhibitions and magazine covers. But it’s their filmmaking talents I’m interested in today.
This classic film from 1977 uses the simple formula of a magnitude of ten to show us two extreme perspectives. Zooming out intergalatically and then magnifying into the deep molecular levels of human body, it contextualises our place in relation to the rest of the universe.
Nearly 50 years later, it hasn’t lost its power to express complex ideas very simply. The Eames weren’t filmmakers per se but this documentary is a testament to one of the basic tenets of their design philosophy which held that innovation had to be the last resort.
Charles and Ray Eames – 1977 Power of Ten from Keith Kennon on Vimeo.
Here’s something that really puts the ‘small’ in Small Objects of Desire. The name of it might sound playfully hyperbolic but this museum aggrandises the small, inconsequential things that gain the heft of importance for some people. It’s curious stuff. Witness the “Small Desert Crumb” entry. Nina Simone’s chewing gum. A swallow necklace. Angelina Jolie’s ancient Nokia phone from the film A Mighty Heart from someone who collects celebrity mobile phones (Who knew?). A wind up toy dinosaur. One man’s shrine to the musician Nick Cave whose documentary 20,000 On Earth is linked to this and who had an hand in curating the museum.
It’s mostly a bunch of crap, the flotsam and jetsam that gathers into people’s lives but a curiosity nonetheless. All of human life is here. I’m going to use it as a repository for making fictional characters. It’s ready made tool for that kind of application.
Sometimes, when I feel the need to pray, I watch a film like this. It’s absorbing, riveting, meditative. All that fascination doesn’t preclude me from asking why anyone would try to push through physical, mental and yes, emotional boundaries to do this sort of thing. And how do you first discover that this kind of thing gives you a buzz? What does it achieve? I am curious about what makes people do the things they do.
I hyperventilate even before my head goes underwater when I have a mask and snorkel on. It’s something to do with the constriction, I think. I can’t even use swimming goggles. And my ears feel fit to burst a mere 3 feet underwater. The very idea of with the possibility of the bends gives me the heebie jeebies. So there’s a certain amount of envy on my part when I see something like Narcose, the film. Spending a lot of time deep under the sea is something I’ll never get to do. But mostly I feel awe, admiration and astonishment.
Deep water freediving exposes its practitioners to a form of narcosis, which induces several symptoms, among which a feeling of euphoria and levity that earned this phenomenon its nickname of “raptures of the deep”. The short film relates the interior journey of Guillaume Néry, the apnea world champion, during one of his deep water dives. It draws its inspiration from his physical experience and the narrative of his hallucinations.
NARCOSE from Les films engloutis on Vimeo.