Adventures on the vertical – from the new vision to powers of ten

Why the talk is inspiring?

Relating Powers of Ten to the preoccupation with verticality associated with the New Vision of the 1920s and 30s, this talk proposes a new reading of the film by placing it in its Cold War context and commissioning culture.  The film is a late example of a long-running series of commissions from IBM that had seen the Eames shift from being designers of ‘objects’ to designers of ‘information’.  Against this background, the symbolic structure of Powers of Ten, which was first sketched in 1968, seems expressive of the reorientation of the Cold War space race from ‘outer’ to ‘inner space’.  If IBM’s electronic and computational machines were predicated upon an ability to intervene in and command this, it was at the same time the focus for new anxieties regarding technological developments (such as miniaturization) and political subjectivity.  Examining this, the paper considers the relation between Powers of Ten and the 1966 Hollywood science-fiction film The Fantastic Voyage, in which a US submarine-cum-spacecraft is shrunken and injected into the body of a defected Soviet scientist.

The talk is held on 11 November, Wednesday, 8.00 p.m. at the National Art Gallery (NDG), Konstitucijos av. 22, Vilnius.

Entrance is free of charge.



Mark Dorrian

How the speaker is exceptional?

Mark Dorrian holds the Forbes Chair in Architecture at the University of Edinburgh. His work spans topics in architecture and urbanism, art history and theory, and media studies, and has appeared in publications such as Cabinet, Chora, Cultural Politics, the Journal of Architecture, the Journal of Narrative Theory, Log, Parallax, Radical Philosophy, and Word & Image. Mark’s recent books include the Seeing From Above: The Aerial View in Visual Culture (co-edited with Frédéric Pousin [2013]) and a volume of his collected essays titled Writing On The Image: Architecture, the City and the Politics of Representation. He is currently working on the political history of air-conditioning, and on a pamphlet on robotic weapons (Welcome to the Dronosphere) for the RETORT collective. Mark has been a visiting professor at the Arkitektskolen Aarhus (Denmark), University of Michigan (USA), and Tianjin University (China), and a visiting scholar at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal.


Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination, 1830–1880

Isabel Armstrong

Why the book is worth reading?

A brilliant, nuanced and innovative close reading of the urban culture of glass in the nineteenth century, which overturns many assumptions.