Category Archives: Documentary

Koyaanisqatsi – Powaqqatsi – Naqoyqatsi

POWAQQATSI‘s overall focus is on natives of the Third World — the emerging, land-based cultures of Asia, India, Africa, the Middle East and South America — and how they express themselves through work and traditions. What it has to say about these cultures is an eyeful and then some, sculpted to allow for varied interpretations.

Where KOYAANISQATSI dealt with the imbalance between nature and modern society, POWAQQATSI is a celebration of the human-scale endeavor the craftsmanship, spiritual worship, labor and creativity that defines a particular culture. It’s also a celebration of rareness — the delicate beauty in the eyes of an Indian child, the richness of a tapestry woven in Kathmandu — and yet an observation of how these societies move to a universal drumbeat.

POWAQQATSI is also about contrasting ways of life, and in part how the lure of mechanization and technology and the growth of mega-cities are having a negative effect on small-scale cultures.

The title POWAQQATSI is a Hopi Indian conjunctive — the word Powaqa, I which refers to a negative sorcerer who lives at the expense of others, and Qatsi –i.e., life.

Several of “POWAQQATSI’s” images point to a certain lethargy affecting its city dwellers. They could be the same faces we saw in the smaller villages but they seem numbed; their eyes reflect caution, uncertainty.

And yet POWAQQATSI, says Reggio, is not a film about what should or shouldn’t be. “It’s an impression, an examination of how life is changing”, he explains. “That’s all it is. There is good and there is bad. What we sought to capture is our unanimity as a global culture. Most of us tend to forget about this, caught up as we are in our separate trajectories. It was fascinating to blend these different existences together in one film.”

To be certain, POWAQQATSI is a record of diversity and transformation, of cultures dying and prospering, of industry for its own sake and the fruits of individual labor, presented as an integrated human symphony — and with Philip Glass’ score providing the counterpart, performed with native, classical and electronic instruments, its tribal rhythms fused by a single majesterial theme.”

QATSI trilogy at NYU Bobst

Not for the answers that might be given, but for the questions that can be raised is this website established. Indeed, the question is the mother of the answer. KOYAANISQATSI’s task is to raise questions that only its audience might answer. KOYAANISQATSI is the first part of the QATSI Trilogy. POWAQQATSI, the second film, was completed in 1988. NAQOYQATSI, as yet unfunded and in search of an angel/investor, will complete the Trilogy. As KOYAANISQATSI focuses on the north and POWAQQATSI on the south, NAQOYQATSI will project its gaze on the global world. With NAQOYQATSI’s completion, the QATSI Trilogy will stand as a cinematic utterance to an untellable event – the technological transformation of the planet. Also, found on this site is the film ANIMA MUNDI. While out-of-sequence of the Trilogy, ANIMA MUNDI has a place in the Trilogy’s progression. All of us who participated in its making bonded in our commitment to realize NAQOYQATSI. What we learned here could be taken there. The Trilogy represents a process, a long span of reflection and production. ANIMA MUNDI’s subject and cinematic treatment expanded the QATSI effort. Created in 1991 with a gift from the Bulgari family of Rome, ANIMA MUNDI was offered as a media voice to the WWF in support of their biological diversity campaign. As the general focus of the QATSI Trilogy is the technological milieu, it is the purpose of this site to foster a web-dialogue on this...

One last update…

Cheers to what is (hopefully) the last update on my final project!

As of right now, I am still working hard to shoot one last time at either Pat LaFrieda or Gallaghers. I have still not had the best of luck but, again, am optimistic.

Last week, I went to Ronnybrook Dairy Farm to photograph some happy cows. That was truly one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I got to lay in a wide open field with massive animals and have them lay with me, sniff me, and lick me. I got to pet and cuddle with cows and even meet a calf that was born earlier that day. (pic below)


Being able to be with these animals and have such a personal experience with them really hit home for me about why I am so passionate about animal rights and happy farms. It also reiterated how terrible factory farms truly are. I wish that everyone who is adamant about eating meat could share that experience that I had because I am confident that even the biggest meat eater could never even look at another steak and find it appealing after being up close and personal with such gentle, sweet, and beautiful creatures. I’ve attached a couple of my B edit shots below.

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Beyond that, I have an edit of 64 photos to choose from (wish me luck). Tomorrow, I am printing them all out very small (4×6) and will be sequencing them into the series on my wall at home- I will add photos to this post of that process as it happens tomorrow.

My plan for the final presentation is to have two large images (I already know which ones but I want it to be a surprise) that juxtapose one another side by side. I will then have my artist statement explaining my project followed by the rest of the series. Under specific images I will have facts about factory farming versus happy farming to clarify why happy farms are better. I will also have facts about the meat and dairy industries as a whole and why they are ultimately harmful to our environment. All of this will be accompanied by an audio clip which you can listen to here. It is a combination of sounds of the steakhouse kitchen and sounds of the happy farm. I will include a small explanation about the audio within the layout of my project as well.

Overall, I am really excited about this project and how it has turned out! I have some great shots that really speak to what I am trying to say about happy farms. I have met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences.

“Embracing All Kinds of Nature”

Since my last update, I have changed a piece I previously made, and created a few new garments. Below are pictures I took of the clothes on a friend of mine. I tried to start to think about how we may want to frame the pieces through photography. And now that I have seen them on someone, I can begin to create an idea of styling or how each piece might connect to a larger scene. Some of the fabric used was found in a recycling container at Parsons, and some of the other fabric was left over from previous projects and costumes. I have not been finishing the edges on most of the pieces because I like having an allusion to the idea of incomplete, or unsolved. I believe this quality is echoed in the state of our environment and the choices we now get to make.

I listened to a podcast recently that has shaped my idea of what is occurring to our planet and what role we play in the destruction, preservation, and reshaping of the natural earth, animal species, and plant diversity. I came across the podcast while listening to the TED Radio Hour sponsored by National Public Radio. The topic: Age of the Anthropocene, or a new geological age, defined by humans and their unprecedented impact on Earth. It is broken down into six segments answering, “What’s The Anthropocene? How Do We Embrace All Kinds Of Nature? Are We Headed Into Another Mass Extinction? How Can Dinosaurs Help Us Understand Our Own Species?” and “Can We Preserve Seed Diversity For The Future?” The topics discussed were varied and allowed me to question the environment in ways beyond how we usually approach our consumption crisis. The podcast balances hope and concern well as well as addresses topics we may not know about and deepens topics we may know well.
In this new light, I continue with my final project, thinking of ways to deepen its impact and meaning. Finding out where I can express concern and where we can find hope and activism in the project. Alex and I are in talks right now about how to frame the garments and I know the ideas that have stuck with me must be interwoven. Especially, what I have gained from the segment Emma Marris did on embracing all kinds of nature. Marris brings us back to being a child and experiencing the wonders of life beyond us through the lens of raising her own children. The ideas that the younger generations will hold of the environment will inevitably be different from ours. But, it is still our responsibility to foster a care within them for the same thing we have loved, and lost in some cases. She brought light to something I too often lose sight of, nature in an urban setting. I know that at the very least, this is something that will come through in my final project.

Before the Flood Documentary

This weekend, I had the opportunity to see Leonardo DiCaprio’s new film, Before the Flood. Following DiCaprio’s journey through places and phenomena shaped by climate change, the film features many familiar faces we’ve seen in documentaries about environmentalism and climate change.

As a recently appointed UN Messenger of Peace with a focus on climate change, DiCaprio has been using his stardom for quite a while to bring attention to issues on climate change. However, dissenters evenmoreso attack climate change supporters because of DiCaprio’s appointment to the UN, saying he has no scientific background and as a Hollywood actor is just as superficial as climate change is.

The film also examines climate change denialism funded by fossil fuel industries, including the Koch Brothers. Like Merchants of Doubt, the film explains that all these corporations have to do is divide the public, not win the debate; corporations find people with fairly reasonable credentials to speak lofty on climate change. This is enough to create a two-sided debate amongst the public.

But, this film brought to my attention the fact that a large percentage of US leaders in the Senate and House of Representatives are connected, in one way or another, to fossil fuel companies and halt progress on preventative measures.

Another issue the film examines is the issue of lifestyle and consumption. People argue that these issues must be put at the center of climate negotiations. American consumption of energy has increased dramatically and seemingly exponentially, and compared to the consumption of other nations is completely ridiculous. But, Dicaprio argues that consumption is never going to change; Americans are not going to want less, spend less, or expect less. Rather, what needs to change is the type of energy used: from fossil fuels to renewables.

But currently, the US is hypocritical in telling other nations to use renewables when they don’t even push it on themselves. A major question the film posed is: Why can’t the US lead by example when it comes to renewable energy and climate change provisions? Is it not our responsibility to help the world transition before it’s too late?

Besides for renewable energy, the film looks at melting glaciers in Iceland, rising sea levels and its effect on small island countries and even here in the US, the effect of palm oil throughout the world, air quality and toxicity in China, coral reef destruction, “carbon bombs” in forest fires, and methane release from cows, among other topics. This film certainly tries to tie all of these topics into one large discussion on climate change, and while overwhelming, it certainly brings to awareness many issues that I’ve known about and many that I hadn’t learned about.

Ending the Paris Climate Accord Signing and serving as the ending of the film, DiCaprio powerfully declared to world leaders: “Now think about the shame that each of us will carry when our children and grandchildren look back and realize that we had the means of stopping this devastation, but simply lacked the political will to do so. Massive change is required right now—one that leads to a new collective consciousness, a new collective evolution of the human race inspired and enabled by a sense of urgency from all of you. You are the last best hope of earth. We ask you to protect it. Or we, and all living things we cherish, are history.”

If you have time, I highly recommend seeing this film in theaters, on Hulu, or on YouTube.

Final Project Update

Imagine your commute to work or school today. Picture those ads you saw everywhere: on the subway, plastered on construction walls, practically anywhere you are in New York City you can see an advertisement for something.

Have you ever purchased something because of an ad? Do those ads generally catch your attention?

Well here is our final project: the anti-advertisement advertisement. Instead of perpetuating our constant value of consumption and consumerism, these ads aren’t trying to sell you anything; rather, they’re trying to remind you and educate you of the potential dangers of such material based industries such as the fashion industry.

Highlighting injustices from the industry, from environmental destruction such as air pollution to animal rights to water contamination, these anti-consumerist fashion advertisements serve to educate the public consumer and urge them to rethink the products they buy.

My brother Joey and I are working together for the midterm. Our focus is on sustainable fashion, so our project will be an unconventional look at advertising. We will be creating 4-7 false advertisements of companies that are failing to practice sustainable manufacturing. This means that the companies are not regulating their effects on the environment or on the people making the clothing. We will be keeping the same aesthetics, branding, and logo design of each advertisement, but changing the name to reflect these unsustainable companies.

A lot of our inspiration came from the documentary The True Cost, which details multiple facets of the global fashion industry, from cotton farming and Monsanto’s seeds to outsourced production to consumerism. We were also inspired by CR Fashion Book‘s pseudo-advertisement “fantasy” campaign, and played with extending fake advertisements to make more of a political statement about the current state of the destructive fashion industry.

This week, Joey and I began taking pictures for our satirical advertisements. We chose the companies that we want to base our advertisements on and changed the names to signify aspects in which the companies are unsustainable and harm the earth.

We have created a calendar for when we will take each photo and travel to the different locations. We are also using the Gallatin computer lab to access Photoshop, experiment with lighting, saturation, and hue, and design the ads.

The first photo was taken in the East Village. We waited for perfect cloudy weather, scoured around for the perfect setting, set up the camera, got in costume, and took plenty of photos and poses. While we got many weird looks on the street, we figured we’re in New York— everybody does weird things.

We don’t want to give too much away, but here’s a sneak peek of some of the unedited shots we got.

Next week we plan on visiting the Bronx Botanical Gardens.