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Life Out Of Balance April 30, 2009

Posted by chris drake in culture, cyborgs, humanity, technology.
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Koyaanisqatsi- A recommended film-

Koyaanisqatsi  opens with scenes of the American southwest, many of them filmed from the air and displaying the sheer hugeness of the area: deep chasms, enormous rocks on vast plains, all with little human presence. Shots of Niagara Falls and other troubled waters and an increasingly ominous tone to the music set the viewer on edge, as one begins to see signs of human presence: machines, pipelines, power lines take a place in the landscape. Nuclear explosions produce mushroom clouds over the desert.
People are eventually seen, sunbathing on a beach in the shadow of an enormous factory. The natural world soon disappears altogether, replaced long shots of packed highways. Sped up, they look like rivers of erratic light. The music becomes dominated by heavy steady beats.
Just as they seem about to explode in a frenzy, the images and the music stop, replaced by slow-motion footage of people who seem displaced, the music also grows much slower and simpler. After the previous section, this feels like a hangover. The movie ends with an astonishing, unbroken tracking shot of a rocket that explodes in mid-air shortly after liftoff. For several long minutes, the camera follows a piece of burning wreckage so steadily that it appears not to be falling at all, merely spinning in space.
Koyaanisqatsi asks the viewers to ponder their relationship to a social system that has come to dominate them rather than serve them. Much of the film is exhilarating and beautiful in a way that may seem counterproductive to that end. But the cumulative effect is more meditative than frightening. The film is not traditional in any sense. It takes the viewer on a wild flight from the tranquil (seemingly lifeless) western deserts of the United States, through the great planes of the nation’s heartland and mid-west, our forests and on to America’s largest cities. The pace accelerates as the music and images drive individualism from the minds’ eye. Modern technological life becomes impersonal and mechanical, and humans become robotic. Our everyday lives seem meaningless as we produce, consume, and maintain ever -increasing amounts of need. Technology feeds on itself and like the rocket shooting into space, as we speed to the top we our bound for destruction. Koyaanisqatsi is the Native American term for ‘Life Out of Balance’

Reproduction of Songs of Innocence and Experience January 28, 2009

Posted by baimeeker in art, visual culture.
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3 comments

I do not think it is weird that most publications of Songs leave out the prints. Although our text does include these prints, they felt the need to also include the text. Copies of these prints are hard to read. This reflects one of the difficulties of reproductive technology.

When David Mack gave his talk last semester, he brought original art from his comic. Although I had seen some of these pages in Kabuki Art books, I was stunned at how different they looked in real life. The art took on another dimension of clarity, a different medium, and even a literal thickness missing in its copies. Copying results in fuzziness, everything printed in the same medium (computer ink), and a loss of the third dimension of thickness produced with heavy paint or Mack’s pasted borders. This can be seen in the fuzziness of the text in Songs. The ink and method of printing are different than in the original.  And of course, it is also a copy of a copy.

I am not saying that we should read only the text, but that if we lose a dimension by leaving out the pictures, we also lose a dimension through the copy machine. My question is, how much do we lose and how important is this dimension to our understanding of Songs?