“Heliotropes” by Michael Langen is a fascinating and beautiful short film about nature and humanity’s shared need to follow the sun, with everything from sunflowers to airline flight paths. The film, which premiered at SXSW 2011, is based on a poem by Brian Christian.
“Heliotropes” offers a glance at how certain patterns repeat themselves at different levels of nature, whether we know it or not. Sunflower seeds and petals are known to follow the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical formula that makes their structure maximally efficient—but they don’t “know” they’re doing this. Likewise, humans go to such lengths to mathematically optimize flight patterns to maximize profit for airlines, but perhaps we don’t realize that what we are doing, when one stands back and looks at that flight data statistically, is simply trying to stay in the light.