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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’

A few further thoughts on a lecture. January 29, 2009

Posted by ah12 in visual culture.
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Hannah Ledecker’s lecture on microcinematography presented an interesting dilema.

It is my opinion that the positives of microcinematography as a tool for learning and demonstrating cellular biology far outweigh its negatives. Microbiologist’s reluctance to accept microcinematography is nothing but bias to the old ways, an inability to advance to a newer medium created by old biases rather an accepted standard. I did this by merely looking at a friends biostatistics book and looking at ways in which microcinematography could help.


  1. The Scientific method: Microcinematography helps give a more in depth look at both the qualitative and quantitative observations of an event, a more accurate statement of the problem based on the ability to see fluid and constant cellular activity. Which allow for a more enlightened and thought out hypothesis and prediction. (Aspects of Scientific method in italics)

  2. Variables: Microcinematography may allow for classification of data as interval data or as a continous variable by showing the changes in variables (cell count, volume, whatever) and thus provide more relevant information.



The following example is to supplement my argument and are less scientific:


  1. Generation: We live in the “ADD (Attention-Deficit Disorder) Generation”. It takes more than a text book to attract peoples attention. Film, movies, and television shows captivate our attention. Special effects films always make the most money as chosen summer blockbusters. While it may not be as ethically sound to recruit based on a generational weakness, for a nation that lacks in scientists, it could soon be a necessity.

  2. Personal: Friends confirm that microcinematography, when used, helps students appreciate and understand the underlying concepts behind cellular activity.They would also (for the most part) choose to watch a video over reading a book with “accurate, engaging diagrams and images”

  1. Diagrams: A look at another biology textbook shows the golgi apparatus’ actions describe via picture, with arrows pointing to movement between the nucleus and the cell, the diagram is choppy, and does not provide a solid description of what is occuring

Thanks for reading!