Slow Ride
By: Peggy Nelson | Categories: Popular, Uncanny

Magnification has had a hold on the creative imagination since lenses were just a gleam in Ibn el-Haitam’s eye. From over the cell walls to very very far away, we are fascinated with scale.


[Powers of Ten, Charles and Ray Eames, 1968]

In the 1960s, Charles and Ray Eames produced Powers of Ten, a short film that zoomed far out, and way in; each scene scaling up or down by another power of ten.

But these types of powers are not for eyes only. What happens when you play games of scale with sound?


[Nowhere Man - The Beatles 800% Slower, by AngelMusicification]

These #slowmemes push the demand on the typical internet attention span by an order of magnitude, but their popularity proceeds at a stately pace. Much as our lives might seem glacially slow to a fly, yet are full of surprises when examined closely, pop tunes slowed down by, say, 800%, yield unexpected spaces and sounds; effects that are often distinctly uneasy.


[Ultra Slow Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush (36 minutes slow, you have been warned!), by robb jmc]


[Star Wars Theme 800% Slower, by DCookStaVideo]

Magnification need not be limited to pop music, of course. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee is a classical composition known for its speed, flying through the air somewhat faster than an actual bumblebee. But what if, as Ali G might ask, the bumblebee were really, really sad…


[Flight Of The Bumblebee 800% Slower, by neoshock]

The slow lens can mathematically magnify anything. Physicist John Cramer slowed the sound of the Big Bang to a range perceivable by human ears; while a dial-up connection signal, now considered painfully slow for machines, approaches music when imbued with an extra sense of leisure.


[Sound of the Big Bang, produced by John Cramer of Washington University, 2003]


[Dial-up sound 700% slower (Creepy), By Darkfalky]

And finally, a meme hasn’t really made it until Hitler has something to say about it.


[Hitler is informed he is 800% slower, by FrenchyStarFox]

So what’s the next level? It’s hiding in plain sight: yes, someone needs to apply the #slowmeme to Foghat.

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Peggy Nelson is Arts Editor at HiLobrow, covering art, art-makers, and the virtual life; she was also HiLobrow's first Artist in Residence. She is a new media artist whose work involves fractured narratives in film, augmented reality, Twitter, and even objects on occasion. Follow her on Twitter at @otolythe.