Epistemic Things in Charles and Ray Eames’s Powers of Ten

  • Derek Woods
Part of the Geocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies book series (GSLS)


Woods uses an analysis of Charles and Ray Eames’s film Powers of Ten to discuss the aesthetic and theoretical implications of texts that represent scientific objects of knowledge—“epistemic things” such as cells and atoms—which exist outside our sensory worlds. Engaging with the work of Hannah Arendt, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger, and exploring definitions of “scale variance” and the “scale domain,” the chapter considers how epistemic things affect human lifeworlds. Powers of Ten invites both a critical reading, which suggests that our relation to entities such as atoms is inevitably anthropomorphic, and a speculative reading, which suggests that modern phenomenological worlds are produced, at least in part, by the traces of objects from nonhuman scale domains.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek Woods
    • 1
  1. 1.Dartmouth College, Society of Fellows and Department of EnglishHanoverUSA

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