Koyaanisqatsi: Is Technology Really So Separate From Nature?

My first exposure to Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 time-lapse masterpiece was at an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum on the ‘Post Moderns’. It featured the now universally recognisable accelerated footage of taillights pumping through the city to the rhythm of alternating traffic flows, creating an eerily arterial display. What was interesting about the use of this footage in this particular exhibition was that it was shown under the pretext of the death of futurism and the birth of dystopia, sandwiched as it was between clips of the bleak futuristic skyline of Blade Runner (which I must admit has a beguiling beauty all of its own) and chaotic images of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. While footage from Koyaanisqatsi, complete with the stark minimalist composition of Phillip Glass, did not feel out of place in this exhibition, I couldn’t shake the notion that there was more to it than merely a bleak vision of man’s conquest over the Earth. This became more apparent when I watched the film in its entirety. Read More…

A Choreographed Dance Through Time

Smiling Victorians

To everything turn, turn, turn; there is a season.”

You may be familiar with this verse, adapted from Ecclesiastes for song by the musician Peter Seeger in the late 1950s and later sung by The Byrds in 1965.

An excerpt from the original:

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3

It’s in the changing of the seasons, that I become most aware of the passage of time, as autumn gently gives way to winter, which always seems too long; and spring and summer, when they finally arrive, too short.

The flow of time is mysterious like that, it flows ever forward and never backwards, and yet so much of existence, like the seasons, seems cyclical; hence the eternal wisdom of the words above.

Strangely, I had that same feeling looking at pictures of smiling Victorians.

The smile broke the time barrier.

The usually severe Victorians suddenly seemed closer in time than they ever had before. The photographs could have been taken yesterday. Over a hundred years separating us seemed like hardly any distance at all.

We live in an age obsessed with “the future” and the next big thing, as if human development occurs in a straight line with no opportunity for rear-view glances.

But, as the beautiful poetic words from Ecclesiastes suggest, the human psyche is rooted in something more ancient and abiding than the latest technological fad.

Hands joining hands in a Hora-like dance that has lasted millennia, the dancers change, but the steps endure.

Featured Image Credit: “Smiling Victorians”