Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory
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Category — Video

Image Indexing: High Speed Scan of Remembrance of Things to Come – Fandor

Warning: Semi-heavy rock and roll soundtrack with crunchy guitars.

This presentation of post-metabolic image indexing is best viewed by your subliminal senses, or your android enhancements if you have connections at the Tyrell Corporation, where a watchful AI owl presides over the spacious dystopic empire of terraced architecture and vast wealth. We are several years in the future of that future, and Fandor has scanned Chris Marker’s Remembrance of Things to Come for our viewing pleasure. The accompanying article, “Chris Marker’s Image Index: As Europe’s grasp on the early 20th-century globe tightens into a death grip in REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS TO COME”, offers a review of his “last work” that is also well worth reading.

This video essay attempts to give a sense of his strategy in organizing hundreds of Bellon’s images into a narrative. As the name most associated with the essay film, Marker is celebrated for having a free-flowing, discursive narration that seems to generate insights on the fly. But by speeding this film up to 14x normal speed and noting the thematic phases that guide his movement through the photographs, one gets a sense of how he pieced together Bellon’s oeuvre to construct both a story of her life and an image collage of modern dystopia.Kevin B. Lee

On another page at Fandor, we find a cogent summation of the film:

Fascinated with the effect of photography on memory (and on the future), Chris Marker and Yannick Bellon look at the work of Bellon’s mother, photojournalist Denis Bellon in this, one of Marker’s final film essays. With a title reminiscent of Marcel Proust’s tome on memory, REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS TO COME uses Bellon’s journalism from 1935-1955, to prove her images of the first post-world-war phase forecast the second. Bellon’s friendship with the Surrealists lends her a unique relationship to the history of recording through images. Despite the paradoxes and puns elegantly expressed by narrator Alexandra Stewart, photography remains prosperous, “used to refresh failing memories or convince nonbelievers.” Some images, this film posits, accomplish more.Sara Maria Vizcarrondo

March 23, 2014   1 Comment

Entering History

Quand les hommes sont morts, ils entrent dans l’histoire. Quand les statues sont mortes, elles entrent dans l’art. Cette botanique de la mort, c’est ce que nous appelons la culture.
Les Statues meurent aussi

Alain ResnaisI’d like to thank Christophe Crison for alerting me to this rare footage of the young Alain Resnais – whose death two days ago is still sending out shockwaves – and (a glimpse of) Chris Marker, recently published at www.ina.fr. The footage was shot on February 1st, 1954 on the occasion of Jean Vigo Prize, awarded to Resnais and Marker for Les Statues meurent aussi, a film that practically single-handedly inaugurated the essay film, opened a long-needed public conversation about colonialism, racism and the politics of the museum, and was promptly banned by the Centre National de la Cinématographie. Single-handedly? More like à quatre mains, but who’s counting…

Jenny Chamarette, in an article on sensesofcinema.com, summarizes these circumstances:

This 30 minute short film has a chequered history of censorship that at one time elevated it to a somewhat mythical status, and which prevented it from being brought into the wider public eye until some 16 years after it was completed. After its first screening at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953, and in spite of winning the Prix Jean Vigo in 1954, Les Statues meurent aussi was banned in France by the Centre National de la Cinématographie between 1953 and 1963 owing to its controversial anti-colonialist stance. While a truncated version was made available in 1963, the unabridged film only became available in 1968.
Jenny Chamarette, Les Statues meurent aussi, Sept. 2009 (Cinémathèque Annotations on Film, Issue 52)

Here is the fragment of what seems to be a jumpcut celebration combined with a game of cards. If anyone can help identify the others that appear here, please do so in the comments section. I would also welcome reflections on what Alain Resnais means to you personally.

Producteur ou co-producteur: RADIODIFUSION TELEVISION FRANÇAISE
Générique: journaliste, Pierre Tchemia
Mots clés: Resnais Alain Marker Chris prix-recompense film Cinéma

A bit more from the Senses of Cinema article:

Les Statues meurent aussi was commissioned by the literary review and publishing house, Présence Africaine, which was set up in 1947 in Paris as a quarterly literary review for emerging and important African writers. Founded by the Senegalese thinker Alioune Diop, it housed the writings of some of the most important francophone thinkers in the latter half of the 20th century, such as Aimé Césaire, Ousmane Sembene, Léopold Sédar Senghor, in addition to French metropolitan writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The journal also translated groundbreaking works by Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka into French for the first time. Having emerged so soon after the new French Constitution of 1946 had declared a “French Union”, Présence Africaine’s publications signalled a new, post-colonial status for French and francophone thought, embracing what was then a key notion: that of négritude. It is this notion that the second half of Les Statues meurent aussi engages with most deeply, and perhaps most controversially, especially as it strives to connect the death of the statue with the rise in the commercialisation of African art for the pleasure of the colonial classes. Indeed, it is against the backdrop of a France that had so recently lost its colonial power, but which still retained many of the quasi-Manichean distinctions between white, Western culture and black, African culture, that (and in spite of their claims to the contrary) Resnais and Marker’s film projected its passionately anti-colonial, anti-racist, even anti-capitalist audio-visual collage. It is little wonder then that such a film should have been censored until the late 1960s, by which time it might have lost some of its topicality, but none of its political vigour.Jenny Chamarette, Les Statues meurent aussi, Sept. 2009 (Cinémathèque Annotations on Film, Issue 52)

Les Statues meurent aussi - collage by John Coulthart

Collage of Les Statues meurent aussi photograms from John Coulthart’s { feuilleton }

According to a 1961 interview with Resnais in the French film journal Premier Plan, it proved impossible merely to censor the film rather than ban it, as the censors claimed that any cuts made would run the risk of them effectively re-editing for their own ends. In effect, what this double-edged and ambiguous comment on the part of the censors suggests, is that the censors at the time were unable to extricate the insidious, intelligent and deeply controversial implications of the film from its patient, attentive visual aesthetic and complex, lyrical voiceover, soundtrack and musical score. Marker also critiqued the censor’s reluctance to make clear what their objections were, and in fact published the full details of their letter in an appendix to his written volume Commentaires in 1961. Commentaires also contains the full poetic commentary of Les Statues meurent aussi, in addition to four of his other early works: Dimanche à Pékin (1956); Lettre de Sibérie (1958); Description d’un combat (1960) and Cuba Si! (1961). That said, the written text only echoes, rather than replicates the extraordinary contribution that Marker’s authorial poesis makes to the film as a whole. A generous interpretation might suggest that, for the censors in 1953, the powerful sound and image track of Les Statues meurent aussi proved impossible to untwine in a way that would not simply present a brutal butchery of the film’s aesthetic.Jenny Chamarette, Les Statues meurent aussi, Sept. 2009 (Cinémathèque Annotations on Film, Issue 52)

It is hard yet to speak of Resnais, like Marker a true genius of cinema, but completely unique. Both were fascinated by memory; Resnais’ best films are enigmas of memory and time. It occurs to me that there was, in the making of Les Statues meurent aussi, some discovery made à deux that was to follow both filmmakers throughout their careers, whatever the genre. Resnais, like Marker, created films that asked the spectator to view them not once or even twice, but many times – as if the films were changing, mutating between viewings – and changing the viewer each time as well. Toute la mémoire du monde, Hiroshima mon amour, Nuit et brouillard, Muriel and the incomparable Last Year in Marienbad come to mind for me, for I have viewed them many times.

I can only wish that the two French innovators of the 7th art are convening now wherever they are, and picking up effortlessly where they left off, making films beyond culture, outside of history, inventing higher dimensional arts…

Toute la mémoire du monde, by Alain Resnais

Toute la mémoire du monde, dir. Alain Resnais, 1957

March 3, 2014   6 Comments

Entering Level Five

More on this film to come… I am watching it multiple times and seeing what my mind can find to put down in terms of thought, the play of concepts, runimation and the like. I am finally entering Level Five.

Chrismarker.org is also celebrating, if you can call it that, a hosting move – up a level – and not without its ‘game over’ moments. If you have had difficulties reaching the site in recent days, that is why. Things did not go as smoothly as hoped, mostly due to climbing up the rather steep learning curve on the Linux command line, followed by some DNS disturbances in the force. Please, if you have any issues with the site, I would appreciate it if you notified me via the contact form. The site should be much faster in load time and overall performance now, as it is using a solid state drive and the latest LAMP technologies. I have also adjusted some typographic minutiae and added the ‘related posts’ feature you’ll see below, which I’m finding does a commendable job – an A+ algorithm, thanks to developer Adknowledge. The plugin serves to unearth some older material buried in the site’s archives and provide more labyrinthian reading paths, just as Borges would have it.

We will also have more to report soon on Dialector 6, Marker’s Apple II long unknown converse-with-computer project. (Perhaps it was his willingness to tackle that command line that paved the way for me, un- or semi-consciously). To wit, a friend and long-time correspondent has managed to reconstruct a version of the source code, via some ingenious screenscraping and reverse engineering. We hope with his blessing to make this available under a liberal license and let you play directly with Marker’s invention. DK, are your ears getting warm?

I’ll leave you with a quote I just rediscovered, as the result of a bad habit of buying books off Amazon late at night. I believe this quote, while not entirely unproblematic, holds some meaning for Chris Marker’s style of writing, bricolage and exploration of the caméra stylo aka ‘essay film’:

Properly written texts are like spiders’ webs: tight, concentric, transparent, well-spun and firm. They draw into themselves all the creatures of the air. Metaphors flitting hastily through them become their nourishing prey. Subject matter comes winging towards them. The soundness of a conception can be judged by whether it causes one quotation to summon another. Where thought has opened up one cell of reality, it should, without violence by the subject, penetrate the next. It proves its relation to the object as soon as other objects crystallize around it. In the light that it casts on its chosen substance, others begin to glow.
– T.W. Adorno, Minima Moralia, trans. E.F.N. Jephcott, 95

February 5, 2014   No Comments

The Third Cat

THE THIRD CAT from gorrr aka. Mosmax on Vimeo.

Dedicated to Guillaume-en-Egypte and thanks to Chris.Marker
Machinima by Max Moswitzer
3D Guillaume created by Exosius Woolley
Screening at Centre Pompidou on 2. November 2010, Estoril Film Festival on 9. November 2010.

Reference: "The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles and Trevor Howard. It is particularly remembered for its atmospheric cinematography, performances, and musical score, and it is considered one of the greatest films of all time. The screenplay was written by novelist Graham Greene, who subsequently published the novella of the same name (which he had originally written as a preparation for the screenplay). Anton Karas wrote and performed the score, which used only the zither; its title music “The Third Man Theme” topped the international music charts in 1950." { Wikipedia }

January 29, 2014   No Comments

The Cat Wants His Grin Back / Les Chats ne sont plus perchés

THE CAT WANTS HIS GRIN BACK (LES CHATS NE SONT PLUS PERCHES) from Fabi Dapi on Vimeo.

Another offering at the temple of homages chez chrismarker.tumblr.com, courtesy Cinémathèque française. Full screen recommended.

July 29th, 2012. A man crosses the zone. A mysterious street painter with paws without claws, prints in the city, this passage in the offspring. So, let’s talk about Chris Marker.

A short documentary by Céline Balandard & Fabien Dapvril.

with the voice of Vincent Remoissenet.

Produced by Tepaklap.
Written by Céline Balandard.
Camera & Editing by Fabien Dapvril.

Translation by Khalil El Bazi & his father, Alison Wightman & Elodie Doudoux.
Special thanks to Laurent Bailly, Pauline Bouyer, Adrien Danielou, Angélique Démaret, François Duboux, Florian Du Pasquier, Bénédicte Favre, Vincent Hémar, Anthony Jade, Anaïs Meuzeret, Audrey Philippon, Ugo Zanutto.

© 2013

January 28, 2014   No Comments

Nom de code: C711

A mysterious homage to Chris Marker, listed on the Cinémathèque française‘ tumblr site chrismarker.tumblr.com in the ‘Les Homages’ section, with these words:

A l’aube du 22ème siècle, un homme, C711, est surveillé de près par les agents du gouvernement. Il détient en effet des informations classées TOP SECRET. Il se fait suivre et les agents maitrisent la situation. Quand un violent séisme survient, C711 en profite pour disparaître. Un plan de capture est alors organisé pour ne pas le laisser s’échapper. Un journaliste reporter alors dépéché sur place a filmé l’opération pour nom de code: C711. Voici les images du reportage. Ce qu’est ensuite devenu C711 est classé TOP SECRET…

Film hommage à Chris Marker, mort récemment, ce film s’inscrit dans la logique du cycle de science-fiction expérimentale. Le travail de recherche sur la musique, ici encore très développée, appuit d’une manière très efficace l’atmosphère de ce film. Le travail graphique de l’image appuit une intention forte de voir la science-fiction d’une manière différente et accentue le côté oppressant et mystérieux de l’histoire. En espérant que vous serez sensible à ce film, que nous espérons accessible autant qu’il puisse.
——-
At the dawn of the 22nd century, a man, C711, is closely monitored by government agents. He has indeed classified TOP SECRET information. He followed and agents have mastered the situation. When an earthquake occurs, C711 took the opportunity to disappear. A catch plan is then held to not let it escape. A then despatched a reporter on the spot filmed the operation codenamed: C711. Here are the pictures of the story. What later became C711 is classified TOP SECRET …

Film tribute to Chris Marker, died recently, this film is part of the logic of the experimental cycle of science fiction. The research on music, again highly developed appuit a very effective way the atmosphere of this film. The graphic work of the image appuit a strong intention to see science fiction in a different way and highlights the oppressive and mysterious side of the story. Hoping that you will be sensitive to this film, we hope to reach as much as he can.

§

Here is the opening statement from the Cinémathèque française:

La Cinémathèque française invite tous ceux qui le désirent, amis, correspondants à l’étranger, curieux et cinéphiles, à envoyer messages ou témoignages, films, photographies ou collages, pour rendre compte de l’importance que l’œuvre et la personnalité de Chris Marker revêtaient pour eux. Ce tumblr leur est ouvert.

The Cinémathèque française invites all those – friends here and abroad, films enthusiasts and cinephiles – who so wish to give their testomonial, in the form of texts, films, photographs or collages, on what the work and personality of Chris Marker have meant to them. This tumblr is open to you.

January 28, 2014   No Comments