Phantom Plane Film Screening: Naqoyqatsi

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Director: Godfrey Reggio

2002 |89  min|United States|Colour |35mm| No Dialogue

To complement the new Tai Kwun Contemporary exhibition Phantom Plane: Cyberpunk in the Year of the Future, the institute will present a series of Cyberpunk film classics, including Akira, Blade Runner, Tetsuo: The Iron Man and more. The audience is invited to experience the charm and astonishing imagination of these foundational Cyberpunk works.

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Far from a randomly generated set of letters, the title of the film is derived from the Hopi, a native American tribe. The name has three meanings: life of internecine struggle, life of war, and the violence of the process of “civilisation”. Since the beginning of the millennium, human beings have oriented their lives towards technology. As binary, digital codes are gradually replacing a primal authenticity, modern technology is also defamiliarising the familiar. It is unsurprising that the Tower of Babel appears at the beginning of the film, symbolising the chaos of untranslatability. Delineating the temporal progression from Genesis to the future, Naqoyqatsi mediates upon the dangers of technological development.

Naqoyqatsi is the last of the Qatsi Trilogy directed by the master documentarist Godfrey Reggio. The film, constituting purely of music and images, shows the ineffable war between technology and humanity—with neither dialogue nor plot. The director processes all the footage technologically, altering their hue and colour, doubling the exposures, adding in 3D animated footage. He is resolute in blurring the viewer’s perceptive divide between the real and the virtual. Employing compositions from the minimalist composer Phillip Glass as played by Yoyo Ma, he hopes to evoke the sounds immanent in the images.