Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

About

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Il faudrait raser la Sorbonne, et mettre Marker à la place.

Henri Michaux*

All the world knows me in my book, and my book in me.

Michel de Montaigne

Je pense à un monde ou chaque mémoire pourrait créer sa propre légende.

Chris. Marker
Following the Ariadne threads of happiness… Wandering in the double past… from La Jetée

About the Site

Chrismarker.org is a randomly-compiled, taxonomically naive and hopefully useful archive of ruminations, bibliographic & filmographic notations, untimely meditations, mnemonic minutiae and other glosses on the cinematic, written, photographic and multimedia work of world-citizen & time-traveler Chris Marker – the “mercurial international man of semiotic mystery.”* (Or, as the endnotes to Abschied vom Kino puts it, Chris Marker is: “Author, activist, filmmaker, photographer, Internaut, critic, media artist, poet, journalist.” We might add: friend to animals). In the end, the working moniker he settled on was simply “bricoleur.”

Biographical

Marker’s biography, taking the cue from Montaigne, is in his work. The closest he got to presenting his life is in the highways and byways of the CD-ROM Immemory. Biography is also, throughout his career, willfully obscured by his playful misdirections, his use of multiple pseudonyms, the enormity of his anonymous work (esp. film commentaries and editing for other films), his well-known avoidance of interviews and, in general, aversion for being in front rather than behind the camera. Rather than a Man Without Qualities, he is a Man Without Biography. Still, there have been attempts, vigorously renewed of course since his passing.

Maneki Neko, bringer of good luck… from Sans Soleil

Contributions

We welcome contributions in short article format from the global village that Marker helped to map. We also welcome Chris Marker news, links, memorabilia, aphorisms, quotations, images, and stray insights. Contributions from animals are welcome too, of course, including but not limited to cats, owls, giraffes, emus, and elephants (слоны).

Origins

The predecessor of this site was an old and crumbling edifice from the ’90s: silverthreaded presents chris marker, housed at a so-called tilde account in the dial-up days, in and amongst the rubble of a long, convoluted research project dubbed Cinema Paranoia. Upon this shaky base we built, quoting & glossing, writing when inspired, ever fascinated by and admiring always the oeuvre of Chris Marker, le plus célèbre des cinéastes inconnus. 

Roadmap & Recent Activity

Though things here have been quiet of late, plans for additions are in the works. I aim to expand the site in several dimensions: (i) adding image galleries; (ii) working toward a more systematic presentation of Marker’s creations in the form of an app (long term); (iii) adding more primary writings by Marker in both French and English; and (iv) reaching out to Chris Marker aficionados, scholars and otaku for more guest articles and translations. I’m working with Sophie Kovel on translations from Marker’s Esprit days (nice mention from Criterion too). I was also honored in presenting the publication of chapter 1 of Chris Darke’s new book on La Jetée. We have also upgraded themes to enable truly responsive design, so the site is really fast and quite readable on mobile devices now, finally.

M Chat & Guillaume, Chris Marker 1921-2012 :: rue Courat, Paris

A Note on Links

I am amazed, as I review the broken links on this site to external sites, at the ephemeral nature of the URL. So many webmasters leave old links in the dust when in many cases they could provide a 301 redirect so that users are not stuck with the dreaded 404 ‘page not found’ dead end. Currently, I have broken links appearing with a strike-through and am attempting to find updated replacements. Alas, it is a fool’s errand in some cases… If you have link updates, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m also in the process of fixing the 404s, artifacts of a previous permalink structure. On the bright side, there is now a better search plugin being used as of June 2018; give it a spin. I don’t think that it is an overstatement that the site has greatly benefitted by this attention to site search. I hope you enjoy its predictive search and nicely styled results pages, which include thumbnail images. Kudos to searchIQ for their great work. With such depth of content, an upgrade in this area of UX was long overdue.

The Estate Awaits!

I will document as best I can the current state of his estate, hoping to glean insights into the materials currently being cataloged by the Cinémathèque française, and looking at others’ takes on the exhibition (I could not attend, une vrai dommage). I am working to gather resources on distribution rights for all extant films, in both French and English, as I get periodic requests for such, or rights for images, etc. Please know that I own only books & CDs as personal possessions, possess no rights other than over my own IP, and that this site is not affiliated with any distribution company nor Marker’s estate.

Books

A more detailed exegesis of new books & anthologies on Marker is also a primary goal before I get buried beyond recovery… Of note: CinémAction 165: Chris Marker, pionnier et innovateur; CHRIS MARKER, the Cinémathèque française exhibition catalog; Studio: Remembering Chris Marker; Revue Esprit Mai 2018: Les Engagements de Chris Marker; Essays on the Art of the Essay Film; The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker; the German translations Kommentare 1 and Kommentare 2; Chris Marker und die Ungewissheit der Bilder… You get the picture. I also look forward to digging deeper into Gavin Keeney’s Dossier Chris Marker: The Suffering Image, possibly the most challenging book on Marker to date.

At the top of my wish list for future publications would be an anthology of Raymond Bellour’s many articles on Marker, and of course English translations of Commentaires 1 & 2 and Le fond de l’air est rouge, as well as publication of previously uncompiled commentaries (i.e. the later films).

Donations

Chrismarker.org, as a solo, not for profit undertaking, has monthly hosting costs, including increased security, associated with its very existence. If you wish to donate, we do have a Give donation capability set up –  that accepts credit cards now and Paypal still. In future, we aim to provide a more wide-ranging means of accepting global donations and on-site forms. Times are tough, and patrons are welcome!

Cimitière Montparnasse Chris Marker
Photo © Nadine Boljkovac. Le tombeau de Chris Marker, Cimetière de Montparnasse, July 2012. Many thanks Nadine!

* The L Magazine.

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Thanks for stopping by!
Daniel L. Potter
Twitter: @llull

* “So legendary that its precise reference is lost” says Raymond Bellour on the Michaux quote…

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Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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