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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Classic experimental documentary Koyaanisqatsi has been remade out of random GIFs

Illustration for article titled Classic experimental documentary Koyaanisqatsi has been remade out of random GIFs
Photo: Jason Kempin (Getty Images)

1982's Koyaanisqatsi is a meditative, absorbing look at modern life that forgoes traditional narrative for a selection of largely slow-motion scenes of humanity’s impact on our world overlaid by a Phillip Glass score. Aside from the rest of the so-called “Qatsi trilogy,” there’s really nothing else like it out there—until, we guess, the release of this decidedly contemporary GIF-powered remix called Gifaanisqatsi.


Created by Rico Monkeon, Gifaanisqatsi pulls from Giphy, a repository of tagged GIFs from across the internet, to generate a random trailer for Koyaanisqatsi. It selects any GIF marked “as slow motion or time-lapse” and then lets them play out within the framework of a Koyaanisqatsi trailer.

The result, from a few pulls on the Giphy roulette, has been a moving selection of GIFs including everything from a wet rat shaking water droplets from its fur to a missile exploding a tank, a boxer getting his face punched in, and time-lapse footage of people walking around in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral—all, it’s important to remember, scored by the same somber Glass composition used in the original Koyaanisqatsi trailer.

The effect, random as it is, can be profound or completely ridiculous. Hearing the trailer’s narrator announce that “critics around the world have called it a remarkable film event, a breathtaking experience, a fusion of image and sound” and then watching a water balloon being dropped on a shirtless dude’s head in slo-mo to the sound of baritone chants is absolutely hilarious. The juxtaposition of GIFs like these with other, more majestic ones—like, say, the aurora borealis sweeping across the globe from space—is genuinely fascinating, though, and true to the actual Koyaanisqatsi’s approach to capturing the absurdity of our species’ place in nature.

This being the internet, Monkeon has, of course, already been asked if a slight tweak might be made available in the future.


The idea is even more compelling than what Monkeon’s already made. Cats in nature, cats in city homes, and cats captured forever in GIF form—truly no purer adaptation of Konyaanisqatsi can be imagined.

[via Motherboard]

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.