Cosmic•Atomic

An immersive trip across time and space.

Cosmic•Atomic synchronizes the short film Powers of Ten with its ancestors/descendants, placing the viewer within a 360 degree kaleidoscopic ring of mirrored ascent/descent. The journey begins in the Netherlands with Kees Boeke's Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps, a 1957 book exploring outer space and our inner selves through orders of magnitude. It then takes us, in turn, to Miami for Charles and Ray Eames' 1968 "rough sketch" film adaption of Boeke's book, to Montreal in that same year for the National Film Board's Cosmic Zoom version, to Chicago in 1977 for Powers of Ten, the Eames team's final draft commissioned by IBM, to Venice in 1996 for the IMAX remake Cosmic Voyage, to the Googleplex for the 2012 Cosmic Eye smartphone app, and, finally, to the Adler Planetarium for the European Southern Observatory's 2016 "Blueprints of the Universe." It's been said that Charles Eames hoped Powers of Ten would give ten-year-olds a “gut feeling” of the dimensions of scale by taking them on an interstellar zoom of ever-increasing speed and expanding perspective before plummeting them all the way back down to a single proton. Cosmic•Atomic compresses the sixty years of scientific imagination that preceded/followed Eames’ vision and invites you to feel them all at once.

NOTE: Cosmic•Atomic is best experienced on a headset while sitting in a swivel chair, but, if viewed on a computer, arrow keys can also provide smooth rotation. This version is in 5.7K, but I can also provide 4K or 8K versions. To check for compatibility, use the trailer links below:

4K Trailer: https://vimeo.com/687745319
5.7K Trailer: https://vimeo.com/687745167
8K Trailer: https://vimeo.com/653952441
Google Cardboard (YouTube) Trailer: https://youtu.be/F6iX7JUR3bo

  • Christopher Boulton
    Director
  • Project Type:
    360 Video
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 13, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    4,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Student Project:
    No
  • 4th VR FEST MX
    Mexico City
    Mexico
    November 12, 2021
    Official Selection
  • 5th MULTIFEST
    Quito
    Ecuador
    November 24, 2021
    Official Selection
  • 5th Virtual Reality Day LATAM
    Loja
    Ecuador
    November 20, 2021
    Official Selection
  • 17th Bridge Fest
    Vancouver
    Canada
    November 1, 2021
    Annual Overall Best Virtual Reality, Installation, 360 Video, Augmented Reality
  • 9th FIVARS: Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories
    Toronto/Los Angeles
    United States
    February 21, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 32nd Florida Film Festival
    Orlando
    United States
    May 2, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 6th Festival ECRÃ
    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazil
    July 1, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 15th LICHTER Filmfest
    Frankfurt
    Germany
    May 10, 2022
    European Premiere
    VR Storytelling Award Finalist
  • 23rd ShorTS International Film Festival
    Trieste
    Italy
    July 1, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 7th Melbourne Documentary Film Festival
    Melbourne
    Australia
    July 1, 2022
    Best VR
  • 11th CineGlobe Film Festival
    Geneva
    Switzerland
    June 29, 2022
    Immersive Award Winner (Jury and Audience)
  • 25th Guanajuato International Film Festival
    León, San Miguel de Allende, Irapuato
    Mexico
    July 22, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 18th Vox Popular Media Arts Festival
    Thunder Bay
    Canada
    September 8, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 4th VRE - Virtual Reality Experience
    Milan
    Italy
    October 6, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 76th University Film and Video Conference
    Fredonia, NY
    United States
    July 28, 2022
    2nd Place - New Media Section
  • 12th Twin Cities Film Fest
    St. Louis Park
    United States
    October 20, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 7th FICMA: Festival Internacional de Cine con Medios Alternativos
    Mexico City
    Mexico
    November 22, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 11th Adelaide Film Festival
    Adelaide
    Australia
    October 19, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 63rd Thessaloniki International Film Festival
    Thessaloniki
    Greece
    November 3, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 15th Byron Bay International Film Festival
    Byron Bay
    Australia
    October 21, 2022
    Official Selection
  • 3rd Tagore International Film Festival
    Bolpur
    India
    February 15, 2022
    Sun of the East Award Nominee for Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality and 360° Video
Director Biography - Christopher Boulton

Dr. Boulton has produced for Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and Court TV. His films on sports, science, dance, and memory have screened at over ninety venues all over the world and have won awards from Orlando, DocsMX, Thomas Edison, Sunscreen, CineGlobe, and Melbourne Documentary film festivals.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I made Cosmic•Atomic as an artistic response to the startling rise of anti-intellectual or “post-truth” populism in the United States and around the world. In the face of widespread climate change denial and vaccine conspiracy theories, I wanted to find a new way to defend the scientific method against the kinds of cynical disinformation campaigns so successfully peddled on social and traditional media by opportunistic grifters, corporations, and politicians. Clearly, when it comes to winning the “war on science,” it isn’t enough to simply have the facts on your side; most of us make meaning through stories. So, I started with my own.

My dad was a minister with a PhD in theology. He loved God and respected science and raised me to value both religion and education. These two strands came together while I was attending a Christian men’s conference during a break from graduate school. Sitting in a dark arena, surrounded by thousands of people, I encountered Powers of Ten for the first time. With our eyes all looking up at the same glowing screen, the film pulled us out into the stupendously large and then back down towards the infinitely small. Along the way, my mind boggled as the vast expanse of outer space mirrored the incomprehensible depth of our innermost selves. As a Christian, it was deeply thrilling and profoundly humbling, stretching the capacity of my mind and spilling over into awe, wonder, and reverence. But when one of the speaker’s came on stage and praised the film’s majestic enormity and exquisite detail as evidence of intelligent design, the scholar in me bristled at how a film based on empirical data could be so easily converted into a propaganda tool for creationist pseudoscience.

Like my father before me, I am now a professor. Only my field is communication and, as such, I’m painfully aware of how the academy often resists translating our theoretical and technical lexicons into more accessible and compelling stories capable of reaching and persuading broader audiences. All too often, our expertise circulates only amongst ourselves, keeping valuable knowledge wonky and obscure. For instance, while studies have repeatedly shown that around 97% of climate scientists agree that human behavior is driving climate change, the Pew Research Center recently found that only 27% of Americans are aware of this overwhelming consensus. This ignorance is exacerbated by counterfactual “controversies” manufactured by the fossil fuel industry to confuse the public and stymie any policy reforms that could hurt their bottom line. It’s also the product of a sustained (and largely successful) effort to fuse conservative faith and politics: if God is in control of a world that is intelligently designed, then the environment is self-correcting regardless of human behavior. Of course, climate scientists would beg to differ, but their increasingly urgent messages are still having trouble getting through. Which is why we need more artists telling science stories that compel and persuade audiences through creativity, meaning, and emotion. And the stakes are only getting higher.

Alarmed by anti-science sentiment, I made Cosmic•Atomic as a nostalgic love letter to the past in pursuit of a more #OpenScience future. I wanted the experience to remind people of what it felt like to see themselves and their place in the Universe for the very first time, whether in a library, a classroom, or an IMAX theater. Cosmic•Atomic is a living archive of our collective history of inquiry and exploration, an accessible demonstration of the iterative nature of knowledge creation, and a call for more personal and subjective defenses of the scientific method. It syncs together Powers of Ten’s sources and imitators, collapses their chronology, and juxtaposes their soundtracks to create an immersive and emotional experience of scientific storytelling that uses emerging technology to reboot those initial thrills of discovery. In these turbulent times, as we enter the Webb Space Telescope era, I hope, beyond hope, that Cosmic•Atomic can help inspire new ways of looking up at the sky and down to earth.