The son of sculptors Lucia Eames and Aristides Demetrios, Eames Demetrios was born and raised in San Francisco. At an early age he developed an interest in film (a passion shared with his grandfather Charles) and later, while volunteering at the city’s Steinhart Aquarium in Golden Gate Park, he became interested in biology. However, when Demetrios graduated from Harvard in 1984, it was with a BA in general studies — a “rare” degree, he says laughingly, received as a direct result of being thrown out of both the school’s film and biology departments. A year later, Demetrios moved to Los Angeles to pursue filmmaking and has since made dozens of pictures, including The Giving, an award-winning black-and-white film about a computer programmer who reprograms ATMs to give back to the homeless. Today, Demetrios runs the monthly movie website DasFilmFest.com and is director of the Eames Office, which celebrates and preserves his grandparents’ legacy. He resides in linear Greater Mar Vista, Calif., with his wife and two sons, but spends a quarter to a third of each year on the road, during which time he researches new Kcymaerxthaere sites, installs plaques and spreads the word of his fictional universe.
Once I learned about Demetrios’ Kcymaerxthaere project, it took me a few hours to realize that it would be nearly impossible to visit every point of intersection in the linear world. In addition to a truckload of time and travel funds, sturdy walking shoes and a rock-solid GPS system, I’d also need a scuba-diving license, since a plaque detailing the Unsoiling of Rockall lies at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, “about an hour’s steaming from Oban,” states my Kcymaerxthaere guidebook. In fact, not even Demetrios has visited every point of -intersection, instead opting to study photographs and satellite images for possible installation sites. “It’s sort of deliberate,” he says, “so I’m not just telling stories that bounce off local history.” He’s also careful not to assign physical depictions to his characters and cultures; instead, he allows imagination free rein — one reason the Kcymaerxthaere especially resonates with children.
Of course, physically finding a Kcymaerxthaere site is much different than looking at one on Google Street View, which is why I dragged Matthew across Manhattan to stare at a bronze plaque in 20-degree weather. Thankfully, the first thing he said to me once we were settled and warm in our cab was, “That was fun.” More than fun, though, it made me think: What have I been missing? Just as in the Kcymaerxthaere there must be stories happening all around me that I can’t see, perhaps because I’ve been too fixated on the Empire State Building’s shiny tower or the complimentary-beverage cart coming up the aisle. Maybe bloodsucking chupacabras do inhabit Utah’s desert, and maybe benches do naturally thrive in Abilene, Texas. They do in the Kcymaerxthaere, where linear sites that I have never thought twice about have now suddenly become intriguing. Maybe our lives are shaped and guided by forces invisible and unknowable to our senses and minds.
Most of the Kcymaerxthaere points of intersection exist in open fields, on unassuming structures in out-of-the-way towns and along obscure roadways that most of us have little reason to drive down. This is, in part, a logistical choice. Obtaining permission to install a permanent plaque honoring a fictional universe can be difficult, and Demetrios is always hunting for people who know people to support the Kcymaerxthaere project. Which is how he found Gaston Dominguez-Letelier, CEO of Meltdown Comics on LA’s Sunset Boulevard. “As a fan of secret histories and alternate realities, the project excited me,” Dominguez-Letelier says. “I loved the idea that our store’s location would become a stop for Kcymaerxthaere pilgrimages and that it would forever become part of some reimaging of the world.” He approved installation of a plaque honoring one of the last fragments of Alleigh’s musical engineering caves in the triangular-shaped alley just outside Meltdown Comics’ gallery, and it’s since attracted a growing number of Kcymaerxthaere photo seekers, though Dominguez-Letelier says, “lots of our alley dwellers think it refers to the 1845 boundary dispute between the U.S. and Mexico.”
Ultimately, Demetrios hopes to install some 2,000 markers worldwide before the project is complete, and he has no plans to relinquish the Geographer-at-Large torch anytime soon. His Kcymaerxthaere gallery shows and patron donations help defray costs, as do sales of the travel guides Kcymaerxthaere Travel Guide Volume Four: Discover Leddl and Kcymaerxthaere Travel Guide Volume Six: Discover Kymaerica (there are others, says Demetrios, but they’re not yet available in the linear world). The Kcymaerxthaere Project will also add a membership program in upcoming months, gifting paying members with souvenirs like partial plaque rubbings and small stones from various Kcymaerxthaere sites. It may all sound frivolous, but Demetrios’ project offers a lot for anyone willing to embrace it.
“No one ever threw down Lord of the Rings after 100 pages saying it wasn’t true,” he says. “No one ever walked out of Star Wars after 20 minutes complaining it wasn’t a documentary. And yet, in the physical world, people are like, is this true or not?”
If it’s inspiring, it doesn’t matter.