Total Cinema of Sight and Sound

Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass

Sep 26–Oct 4, 2023


Koyaanisqatsi. 1982. USA. Directed by Godfrey Reggio. Courtesy Institute for Regional Education (IRE)
  • MoMA, Floor T2/T1 The Debra and Leon Black Family Film Center

In over four decades, filmmaker Godfrey Reggio and composer Philip Glass have created a series of mesmerizing visual and sonic experiences, each painstakingly crafted to reflect on the interaction between the natural world and human activities. Koyaanisqatsi (1982), the first of their Qatsi trilogy—which also includes Powaqqatsi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002)—received a rapturous response upon its release and became an instant cult classic. Their image- and sound-saturated experimental works form a continuing philosophical rumination on life on earth, and how it is altered by the forces of technological development and global economics. Poetic, meditative, apocalyptic, and intense, these non-narrative experiments embody a formal rigor in style, structure, and tone, at once cerebral and primordial. Working collaboratively, and largely in tandem, throughout the production process, the two have achieved something rare in cinema: a consummate marriage of sight and sound that weighs both aspects equally, a singular brand of total cinema that has expanded the imagination of the film medium. One cannot think of Reggio’s captivating and visionary images without Glass’s spellbinding and ever-shifting sound.

This retrospective, which includes all of the features the duo has collaborated on, is organized around a weeklong run of their latest work, Once Within a Time (2022), which is screening in its New York premiere.

Organized by La Frances Hui, Curator, Department of Film.


If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].