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Science on Screen® — Koyaanisqatsi and Environmental (Mis)management

Thursday, February 1, 2024 at 7:00pm to 8:26pm

Willard Straight Hall Theatre

Originally released in 1982, Koyaanisqatsi was unlike anything audiences had previously experienced and remains a prescient meditation on relations between humans and environment. Directed by Godfrey Reggio and filmed by Ron Fricke, this pioneering art film raises critical questions regarding modernity, technology, humanity, and sustainability. Given its lack of narration and dialogue, the film operates solely through montage and music. Reggio went on to make two companion films, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi, which formed The Qatsi Trilogy. Acclaimed composer Philip Glass scored all three films, but his score for Koyaanisqatsi took on a life of its own and is considered "one of the most startling and original soundtracks ever written." (New York Times)

In this Science on Screen¨ event, Steven Wolf, Associate Professor of Natural Resources and the Environment in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will explore the contemporary relevance of Koyaanisqatsi. His research focuses on critical institutional analysis of environmental (mis)management. As expressed by Hollingsworth and Boyer, this is an effort to identify "the various institutional mechanisms by which economic activity is coordinated, with understanding the circumstances under which these various mechanisms are chosen, and with comprehending the logic inherent in different coordinating mechanisms." The film and his brief introductory remarks will invite participants to reflect on forces that shape landscapes, development, and prospects for re-enchantment.


Professor Wolf has taught with Koyaanisqatsi and Cornell Cinema in his Environmental Governance course for the past 15 years.

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Cornell Cinema, Natural Resources


cascal, film, movie, tfdcin, pma, perfhum


$0 All Access Passholders, $8 students & seniors, $6 grads & kids, $10 general

Cornell Cinema
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Teresa Alvis

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