Friday, December 16, 2005


A couple of things came together for me--my interest in the minimalists and Alex Ross' article on Philip Glass' score--that made me think it was finally time for me to see Koyaanisqatsi, or Life out of Balance.

There's a little joke at the beginning: the DVD has a screen offering subtitles in Francais and Espagnol. The joke is that there is no dialog, just film and music. I am imagining words running across the bottom of the screen.

We begin with empty deserts and oceans and move gradually into human life. There is beautiful footage of a cave with bats flying in and out. The music and the film become gradually more and more frenzied, with film of explosions, buildings falling down and time lapse photography of cars going by. The musical score and the pictures complement each other. Glass' style consists of simple 2-4 note figures that are repeated in simple harmonic contexts. With these tools he is able to create large musical landscapes, larger than should actually be possible.

I wonder if this would make a good exercise video. I used to like to exercise to the video of the Joffrey doing Rite of Spring. I generally think exercise videos are too unimaginative. Why not exercise to Philip Glass and rockets taking off?

There is film of my beloved Bay Area with people riding BART and driving on the freeway that collapsed in the earthquake.

How can we judge that it is life out of balance? It is the only life we know.

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