the candler blog

Watch Koyaanisqatsi in 5 Minutes


Over on Vimeo, user Wyatt Hodgson has uploaded his first video entitled “Balance Out of Life” (embedded above). It is the entirety of Godfrey Reggio’s landmark 1982 film, Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance, sped up exponentially bringing the runtime to just over 5 minutes. From Hodgson’s notes:

Video: Koyaanisqatsi at 1552% speed. (The year 1552 marks the publication of “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies,” an account of the mistreatment of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas)

Audio: “The Holy Egoism of Genius,” a track off the 1999 album The Seduction of Claude Debussy by The Art of Noise.

While this decontextualizes Reggio’s film (and does away completely with Philip Glass’s score) it isn’t any less mystifying than the original. Koyaanisqatsi has proven to have remarkable staying power for a film which is best experienced in a theater with live musical accompianiment.

Hodgson has reframed that experience. What does it mean that we can watch it online, windowed in a web browser, in as much time as it takes to take out the trash? I’m not sure, but questions like those are why I really enjoy this little experiment.

UPDATED 02/06/2012: Over in the comments on Vimeo, user stretta points to a sped up version of Philip Glass’s Koyaanisqatsi score he posted that matches the above video. I think speeding up the whole film, audio and video, provides a completely different experiment than what Hodgson was trying to do with his piece. Still, this seems a noteworthy addition so I’m embedding it below. You can mute the video and play the audio, but be warned, it’s not easy to make it through all 5 minutes.