Economies of Scale

It's a classic science-fair project: Build a model of the solar system using Styrofoam balls of various sizes to represent the planets. Maybe even mount 'em on wire rings so they can orbit. Industrial designer Jan Wanggaard took the project to its outer limit, constructing a scale model of the solar system at a 1:200 million proportion. Even working on such a drastically reduced scale (by way of example, a 1:350 model of the battleship Nagato is just more than two feet long), the amount of space required to house such a model is vast — because space is deep, man. Wanggaard's project, Planet Lofoten, spreads across the ruggedly beautiful Norwegian islands of Lofoten. Lars Nilssen's film Panta Rei documents Wanggaard's work over the span of three years — from conception to finished installation. Panta Rei also humanizes our little corner of the universe; contemplate the stark melancholy of Wanggaard's Uranus, keeping a lonely vigil on a rocky, snowbound promontory that overlooks the vast sea, and you grasp the awesome grandeur of creation. Panta Rei screens at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-655-5299 or www.slam.org). Admission is $3 to $5 and includes a second film, Zahara & Urga, about a young boy living near the Arctic Circle.
Fri., Feb. 15, 2008

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