Category Archives: Dialector

History of the Dialector Program

Chouette Dialector 6 Chris Marker

Dialector is now online at Poptronics.fr: https://dialector.poptronics.fr/
The text below is reproduced from that page. French version available there as well…

HISTORY OF THE DIALECTOR PROGRAM by Agnès de Cayeux, Andrès Lozano, Annick Rivoire

Sergei Murasaki, Kosinki, Stalker Sandor, Iterovich… No matter which pseudonym we use to refer to him, Chris Marker was the first‚ the first geek, the first programmer, the one who dove into computers, graphics cards, PEEKs and POKEs, who took a bite out of the apples of Alan (Turing) and Steve (Jobs and Wozniak). Marker programmed in 64k, 128k and 256k, wielding 5.25 floppies, poetry and invention. He wrote lines and lines of Basic code on his Apple // e, c and GS, those marvelous machines of the 1980s. Marker was a genius of computer thinking, inversing algorithmic logic, dodging digital syntax and refusing the label of visionary artist : “Let’s leave that to Steve Jobs”, he wrote.

It’s 2010. Marker recalls “the good old days when you could program quickly in Applesoft Basic.” He writes about his artificial intelligence (AI) dialogue program : “DIALECTOR was the sketch of a program that was interrupted when Apple decided that programming should be reserved for professionals. What remains are a few, probably incomprehensible, fragments and a dialogue sample. The original is stored somewhere on 5.25 floppy disks that are unreadable today. I’m sure that if I had been able to continue working on it at a pace of a few lines a day, the program would have had a much richer reserve of conversation, but that’s the way it is (and if CD-ROMs… and if… and if… wrong way of thinking).”

So, more than two decades after the slow-paced writing of DIALECTOR (from 1985 to 1988, time spent on inventing the possibility of a double, an ode to immortality), Chris Marker shares his thoughts : “Translating Applesoft Basic into contemporary code is probably unimaginable‚ this could have been one of my specialties: creating within the realm of the unattainable.”

This is the story of a man, his screens, his machines and his languages. It is also our story, that of computers and of thought : Do machines think ? And the story of an unrealized dream from the 1980s, a utopia developed out of AI.

It’s 2011. Marker e-mails us a few old annotated pages of the DIALECTOR program, as well as a dialogue sample. Then he finds the infamous 5.25 floppy and sends it over. It’s version 6 of the program. Time passes.

It’s 2012. We manage to track down an Apple // machine and its person. Together we set off on this journey into the history of computer programming. The floppy is readable. Version 6 of DIALECTOR, however, won’t execute and stops at the third command line, on the image of an owl. We extract the contents of the disk and discover that all the DIALECTOR files and version 6 of the program are intact, more than 20 years after they were saved‚ a miracle in the merciless world of programmed digital obsolescence. We convert them to text format and return them to Marker the same day, as requested.

It’s 2015. We have analyzed Marker’s lines of code and translated the program originally written in Applesoft Basic into a contemporary programming language. DIALECTOR runs on our computers. History is now imaginable. We converse with the program’s protagonist, whose name is COMPUTER. We spend hours in front of the computer screen, our machines and our apples. DIALECTOR is inexhaustible, with the humor of an English-speaking cat, a New York owl and a passing face.

It’s 1988. DIALECTOR suggests the futuristic and a-mortal vision of an anachronistic computer science dedicated entirely to poetic thought. In his stab at programming, Marker wrote the future face of machines: not very spectacular and, in a way, much more terrifying. He (perhaps unintentionally) predated a model of modernist fantasy that elevates the computer network to a possible matrix world, whose elements are already in place. The static, rudimentary art of reading on screen is now devoted to the irresistible ascension of the owl‚ eternal muse of the world according to Chris.

DIALECTOR is a computer program developed by Chris Marker in Applesoft Basic on an Apple //
The version that Chris Marker sent us is version 6 of the program, written in 1988.
DIALECTOR 6 is a conversational program that also contains visual and audio elements.
The program was originally saved on a 5.25-inch floppy disk.
According to Marker’s friend and engineer Paul Lafonta, previous versions were clearly geared toward multimedia development (touch screen, interactivity, etc).

Agnès de Cayeux, Andrès Lozano, Annick Rivoire

Apple II

Chris Marker Dialector Reloaded by André Lozano – English Translation

Many thanks to Dorna Khazeni for translating André Lozano’s interesting tale of bringing Chris Marker’s Dialector to the annual Appel II Convention @ KansasFest last summer. The original article in French appears in another post here, Dialector Reloaded, or We Aren’t In Kansas City Anymore.

§
André Lozano headed to Kansas City (USA) July 22-27 for the annual Apple II Convention, KansasFest, and to present “Dialector,” the original, previously unpublished program by Chris Marker, reactivated through his efforts, with the collaboration of artist Agnes de Cayeux, and the founder of Poptronics, Annick Rivoire. Back in France, he recounts the event, the ambiance, and ponders the retro-computing phenomenon.

How I reloaded Chris Marker’s Dialector at KansasFest

So, I took off with my 5 1/2″ “Dialector” diskette in my bag, headed to Kansas City, USA, to “reload” the program that Chris Marker had written in his spare time in the 1980s. This was going to take place not just anywhere, but in a singular technological and sociological environment: at KansasFest, the rendez-vous of Apple II enthusiasts.

What Annick Rivoire, Agnes de Cayeux and myself mean by “reload” is the reactivation, using period computer equipment, of the “Dialector” program written 30 years ago by the documentary filmmaker and multimedia artist. As “Dialector” is a program intended to make it possible to hold a conversation with the machine, we were inviting volunteers to activate it, we would then conserve the subsequent emotions and dialogue.

Arrival in Kansas City

Seventeen flight hours after my take-off from Luxembourg, via Munich and Philadephia, I landed in Kansas City, “the City of Fountains.” and found I had moved back thirty years on the computer science timeline.

Immediately upon my arrival at the University of Rockhurst, barely after I’d passed the threshold of the main entrance, I stumbled upon a mountain of cumbersome computer equipment. It’s a sort of tradition here: every year generous donors part with their collections. It’s a free-for-all cum yardsale for the cognoscente. This year Eric is parting with his equipment with a note of sorrow as he’s not sure, in view of his very advanced age, that he will be returning to KansasFest. Everyone helps themselves to the equipment and the sentimental patrimony according to their needs, and shares according to their means. In this trove, I came away only with a working joystick, the rest of it was either too voluminous, or was incompatible with European electronic standards.

I experienced a strange feeling at being here, 7500 kilometers from where I live, in this improbable place, a deserted Jesuit university, lost in a city in the middle of the United States, among 70 to 80 “attendees,” (participants), all of them fervent first generation Apple computer users. I wondered, “What is obsolescence exactly? Should one resign oneself to ever-changing equipment? What if the resilience of innovation were actually possible? Right here maybe, with Dean, Vince, Andrew and Quin? Young and old, initiated or debutants, a counter-innovation was set into motion.

“Apple II forever”

Let us resists the sirens of novelty, bye bye Ipod, Iphone and MacBook! Here it was “Apple II forever,” and everyone could marvel at an MOS 6502 processor. There reigns a sort of febrility among the participants that I imagine must resemble what animated those who conceived of computers toward the end of the 1970s, before the San Francisco West Coast Computer Fair. It’s easy to identify with the two Steves assembling the Apple I in Jobs’ father’s garage: that “garage” spirit reigns here. A digital environment that’s more bermuda shorts and t-shirts than business suits. The most incredible part of it is that the adventure carries on each year, growing even (some are happy to note there’s a greater number of participants in 2014) and it along with it, a trove of new computers, new equipment, and the craziest developments for a platform, namely the Apple II, production for which ceased… over 20 years ago. Respect!

They come almost every year from the four corners of the United Stated, from Nebraska, from New York, from California, by plane, by car, by truck even (more practical for transporting equipment). The first edition took place in 1989. At the time, Apple shifted its focus to the Macintosh, abandoning the pioneers Basic, l’Assembleur and the small companies that produced all sorts of peripheral electronics. A turning point for micro-informatique: the artisans were swept away by the industry, and Apple, Microsoft and company were the new IBM.

8bit fidelity

I am still surprised at this fidelity in Apple’s first generation. So, I put the question to those around me. When I asked George Elmore why he was passionate about these old machines, he confided this: “Nothing can replace a first love, you remain faithful to it your whole life, that’s just how it is.” Dave Schmenk, who develops the integration of Raspberry Pi in Apple, begrudges today’s machines their coldness. They are too “antiseptic” for his taste, whence his attachment to these old machines that are “warmer.” It’s often a matter of finding the “gameplayer” of their youth. And actually a lot of KFest is about playing. Better yet, new games are created for the Apple II, like the RPG “Lawless Legends,” presented as a world exclusive at Kansas City.

Still… how can one account for the attraction? The title of the book by Steven Weyhrich about the history of Apple, Sophistication and Simplicity, is perhaps a good shortcut for understanding what this generation of computers represents. As Apple’s first ad proclaimed, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” At once simple and sophisticated with its 64 kilobytes of memory, this micro-computer was open to all modifications and all development, an ingenious system that generated a true ecosystem around itself with large and small enterprises daily developing software, games, peripherals, hardware, etc. for it.

Climate and Air-conditioning

You’d have to be mad to look for 35 degree © weather with a relative humidity of 80%, the average in July in Kansas City, but in the United States, no worries! Cars, buses, shops, everything or almost everything is air-conditioned, cool and pleasant nights await us in the dormitories at Rockhurst. Except that KansasFest is a sort of marathon and sleeping is out of the question: at all hours of day and night, in rooms, their doors ajar, interminable discussions, improvised workshops and other demos are underway. Certain rooms are veritable digital gloryholes, my neighbor across the way is surfing the net with his Apple II GS, the one next door is composing music on a IIc, and a little further away, I don’t know but there’s people chatting till there are no more hours left in the night.

Four in the morning, prey to the inevitable jet-lag, I went downstairs to stroll through the “lobby,” thinking I’d get something from a vending machine, and came across ten or so Apple lovers in animated conversation. Geeks never sleep at KansasFest. Just as well, me neither, I’m no longer sleepy, the next day I’m giving my “Dialector” presentation.

“Dialector”, Chris Marker and Retrogeeks

KansasFest is the dream place and event for reloading “Dialector.” Putting aside the temporal jump of 30 years that puts us back exactly at the moment the program was written by Chris Marker, the Anglophone environment is perfect for a program that speaks English. Besides, this is the only place, with all these Applesoft Basic and Apple II specialists, where you can not only play with “Dialector,” but also analyze all its algorythmic subtleties. Together with Annick and Agnes, we have done everything to re-situate “Dialector” within its historic and technological context, so as to better seize its impact and pertinence. Here at KansasFest, it is the ultimate test. If tomorrow, the program meets with success, then Chris Marker will merit, more than ever, our profound admiration as a digital pioneer.

At the end of my introduction, it was Sarah who volunteered to talk to “Dialector,” on an Apple IIc original—and a Qwerty keyboard this once. Naturally, the dialogue was more animated than it usually is since so many of the puns are directly related to the wit of early days Apple Users. A great burst of laughter erupts when “Computer,” (the interlocutor’s name in “Dialector”) says “NEVER TRUST ANYONE OVER 256K” or “DO YOU PUT A ‘K’ ON YOUR SHIRT?”—geek humor impenetrable to non-initiates.

Throughout the presentation, the audience reacted perfectly, with their questions and their suggestions, to the artistic quality of “Dialector,” and to the sense of humor that is so specific to Chris Marker. Mission accomplished when the “Dialector” session ended in the public’s applause.

Apple Forever

Here we are Apple fans, but we don’t necessarily like Macintosh. Margot Comstock, at the end of her inaugural talk, confides in us that she stopped her magazine “Softalk” once the Macintosh arrived. Apple, under Steve Jobs’ impulsion, toward the end of the 1980s, turned toward ready-to-use machines, that required only the slightest understanding of computer science, rendering the community of users and their clubs, their magazines and their knowledge base completely obsolete.

When it came out, I was a big fan of the Mac’s graphic interface. However, when you think about it, that interface was at once the best and the worst thing that could have happened to computer technology. By making the computer as easy to use as a children’s toy, Apple made its users even more ignorant and dependent. Thirty years ago, 5% of us owned a computer but almost 95% of owners were technically capable of programming or modifying their machines. Today, we are going to suppose 95% of us own a computer and that we are no more than 5% who are technically capable of programming code or of transforming a machine.

Live video conferences from Kansas Fest

When I arrived here, I met Olivier, a Frenchman originally who had become American, who was also experiencing his first KFest. He had offered to do a daily write-up for the French Facebook page set up by fans of first generation Apple. He interceded on my behalf throughout my KansasFest sojourn. I was the only participant to have come from another continent.

It’s all about holding your own… We organized, broadcast and recorded four Google HangOuts meetings that we put on a dedicated YouTube channel, with the aim of allowing Americans and French to meet and converse. Each day after lunch in Kansas City and around 8 p.m. French time (technical conditions permitting), we had leisurely and good-natured exchanges of ideas with Annick, Agnes, Dean, Ken, Olivier, Stephane, and our friend Antoine Vignau, at their stations. A great occasion for soldering new transatlantic ties.

Bouquets of sessions

Each day, KFest sessions follow one another according to a well-established calendar. The offerings are highly diversified between the conferences, demos, workshops… There are “classic” talks like Margot Comstock’s about the adventure of the publication “Softalk,” a leading light of early 1980s computer publications, or Jason Scott from Archive.org’s presentation about the issue of archiving. Then there was my own on “Dialector.”

Numerous demos also took place: Peter Neubauer revisited the emulator GSPort’s latest developments, Ivan Drucker presented A2Cloud and A2Server (A2Cloud allows an Apple II to connect to the internet via a Raspberry Pi), Charles Mangin did a 3D printing demo for us to replace certain plastic parts, David Schmenk managed to fuse an Apple II to a Raspberry Pi…

There was no shortage of workshops either: Sarah Walkowiak traded the soldering iron for a needle and thread to make a cross stitch Apple out of thread; Vince Briel, already known for recreating the Apple I or Altair, reproduced the mythic Ohio Scientific Superboard II (OSI 600) with soldering irons and electronic components; the Hogans, father and son (11 years old), invited us to make rockets propelled by compressed air, piloted by the Apple II Joystick port.

A singular presentation by Quinn Dunki, a blond Canadian woman, who told us the story of how, over the course of four years, following in the footsteps of Steve Wozniak, she created her own computer, “Veronica.” Built from scratch, around the MOS 6502 processor. As a dare, with no end in mind other than mastering the hardware and software, propelled by playfulness and a wish to go beyond her own comfort zone, since she is not a computer scientist.

Meaning one does not get bored at Kansas Fest. Not to mention the games. For the five days of this gathering, we often had a chance to play, be it at “Structris” competitions—a sort of inverted “Tetris,”—or at “Lawless Legends,” just created this year, or, at more singular forms like “Jungle Adventure,” at its origin an interactive text game transposed as a collective society game by Ken Gagne, who himself incarnates the computer to which to give instructions (“human interface”).

The future of Apple II

During his presentation, Ken Gagne, the editor of Juiced.GS, surprised us by his presentation that made use of graphics that conveyed the growth in the numbers of his subscribers over the last five years. After a logical drop in the magazine’s distribution, linked to the obsolescence of the machines, it found a veritable resurrection which can be attributed to the emergence of retro-computing.

Ever since the computers created 30 years ago entered museums, they have become of historic interest to a whole new generation that is passionate about preserving its computer science patrimony. Ken tells us he is surprised by the ever greater amount of information there is to publish around Apples: each day brings its lot of new equipment and software.

Enthusiasm

In the course of my stay at Kansas Fest, I often heard the term “Apple enthusiast,” or “computer enthusiast.” I really like this expression because it turns its back on “nostalgia,” and immunizes us against the “melancholy” that accompanies the disappearance of machines that have fascinated us. In this enthusiasm resides a joy and a trust in the future, as if the past were still capable of surprising us and teaching us new wisdoms.

§

A few retrogeek links

The last word where news concerning first generation Apple is concerned can be found here:
https://a2central.com

Building a computer from the ground up, by Quinn alias Blondie Hack.
https://quinndunki.com/blondihacks/

Converting one’s venerable Apple II into a sort of vintage Arduino.
https://www.ivanhogan.com/kfest

The “Softalk” project set up by some fans that aims to digitize all the issues of the publication.
https://www.softalkapple.com

One of the first and famous sites for the conservation of digital memory and its best text files:
https://textfiles.com

The French site dedicated to the world of Apple is here.
https://www.brutaldeluxe.fr

This is the site where you can find replicas of the famous Apple I and the Altair:
https:.brielcomputers.com

“Structris,” the inverted “Tetris” game for Apple II:
https://bitbucket.ort/martin.have/structris/downloads

“Sophistication and Simplicity: The Life and Times of the Apple II Computer,” the indispensable book by Steven Weyhrick on the history of Apple.

Juiced.GS,” the trimestrial news publication about first generation Apple.

The Apple II France Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/a2france/

André Lozano

Dialector Reloaded, or We Aren’t In Kansas City Anymore

Dialector on Monitor at KansasFest

This just in, or rather just in to my brain running one month behind, on the Dialector front – Chris Marker’s human-computer conversation program – from poptronics.fr. We’ll get the whole article translated asap. Vivent les rétrogeeks! Who knew that Marker’s resurrected early digital interactive creation DIALECTOR starred in a geekfest in Kansas City over the Summer?

14’08’14
andré lozano
poptronics.fr

Comment j’ai reloadé Dialector de Chris Marker au KansasFest

Donc voilà, je suis parti avec ma disquette 5 pouces 1/4 de « Dialector » dans le sac à destination de Kansas City, Etats-Unis, pour « reloader » le programme que Chris Marker a écrit au mitan des années 1980. Et ce dans un environnement technologique et sociologique unique en son genre, le KansasFest, le rendez-vous des « enthousiastes » de l’Apple II.

Ce que Annick Rivoire, Agnès de Cayeux et moi-même désignons par « reload » est une réactivation, sur du matériel informatique d’époque, du programme « Dialector » écrit par le cinéaste documentariste et artiste multimédia il y a 30 ans. Comme « Dialector » est un programme de conversation avec la machine, nous invitons des volontaires à l’activer puis nous en conservons l’émotion et le dialogue.

Arrivée à Kansas City

Après avoir décollé du Luxembourg en passant par Munich et Philadelphie, j’atterris à Kansas City, « la ville des fontaines ». Dix-sept heures de vol plus tard, je me retrouve trente ans plus tôt sur la ligne du temps informatique.

Dès mon arrivée à l’université de Rockhurst, à peine l’entrée principale franchie, je trébuche sur une montagne d’encombrants informatiques. C’est une sorte de tradition : chaque année de généreux donateurs se séparent de leur collection. C’est une sorte de vide-grenier entre connaisseurs. Cette année Eric se sépare de son matériel avec une note de tristesse parce qu’il n’est pas certain, vu son âge très avancé, de revenir à KansasFest. Chacun se sert selon ses besoins et partage selon ses moyens son patrimoine matériel et sentimental. Je ne rapporterai de cette manne qu’une joystick fonctionnelle, tout le reste étant ou trop volumineux ou incompatible avec les normes électriques européennes.

J’éprouve un étrange sentiment en me retrouvant ici, à 7500 km de chez moi, dans ce lieu improbable, une université jésuite déserte, perdue dans une ville au centre des Etats-Unis, parmi 70 à 80 « attendees » (participants), fervents utilisateurs d’ordinateurs Apple première génération. Je m’interroge : c’est quoi au juste l’obsolescence ? doit-on se résigner à changer de matériel constamment ? et si la résilience à l’innovation était possible ? ici-même, avec Dean, Vince, Andrew et Quin ? Jeunes et vieux, initiés ou débutants, une contre-innovation s’ébauche.

« Apple II for ever »

Résistons aux sirènes de la nouveauté, bye bye Ipod, Iphone et MacBook ! ici c’est « Apple II for ever ! » et tous de s’émerveiller devant un processeur MOS 6502. Il règne une sorte de fébrilité parmi les participants que j’imagine semblable à celle qui animait les concepteurs d’ordinateurs de la fin des années 1970, avant la West Coast Computer Fair de San Francisco. On s’identifie facilement aux deux Steve assemblant leur Apple I dans le garage du père de Jobs : l’esprit « Garage » règne. Une atmosphère informatique davantage bermuda et tee-shirt que costard cravate. Le plus incroyable, c’est que l’aventure continue chaque année, voire se développe (certains se réjouissaient de voir plus de participants en 2014), et apporte son lot de nouveaux logiciels, de nouveaux matériels, de développements les plus fous pour une plate-forme, l’Apple II, dont la production a cessé… il y a plus de 20 ans. Respect !

Ils viennent presque chaque année des quatre coins des États-Unis, du Nebraska, de New York, de Californie, en avion, en voiture, même en camion (plus pratique pour transporter le matériel). La première manifestation s’est déroulée en 1989. A l’époque, Apple se focalise sur le Macintosh en abandonnant les pionniers, le Basic, l’Assembleur et les petites compagnies fabriquant toutes sortes de périphériques électroniques. Un tournant pour la micro informatique : les artisans balayés par l’industrie, et les Apple, Microsoft and co. en nouveaux IBM.

[…]

« Dialector », Chris Marker et les rétrogeeks

KansasFest est le lieu et l’événement rêvé pour reloader « Dialector ». Hormis le saut temporel de 30 ans qui nous situe exactement au moment où le programme a été écrit par Chris Marker, l’environnement anglophone est parfait pour un programme qui parle anglais. Par ailleurs, il n’y a qu’ici, avec tous ces spécialistes en Applesoft Basic et en Apple II, que l’on peut non seulement jouer avec « Dialector » mais encore en analyser toutes les subtilités algorithmiques. Avec Annick et Agnès, nous avons tout fait pour replacer « Dialector » dans son contexte historique et technologique, pour mieux en saisir la force et la pertinence. Ici à KansasFest, c’est le test ultime. Si demain, le programme rencontre le succès, alors Chris Marker méritera, plus que jamais, notre profonde admiration en tant que pionnier de l’art numérique.

À la fin de mon introduction, c’est Sarah qui s’est proposée pour converser avec « Dialector », sur un Apple IIc original –et clavier Qwerty pour une fois. Naturellement, le dialogue s’est animé plus qu’à son habitude, puisque de nombreux jeux de mots ont un rapport direct avec l’esprit des Apple Users de la première heure. Grand éclat de rire lorsque « Computer » (le nom de votre interlocuteur dans « Dialector ») a dit « NEVER TRUST ANYONE OVER 256K » ou « DO YOU PUT A ’K’ ON YOUR SHIRT ? » –de l’humour geek impénétrable pour les non initiés.

Durant toute la présentation, l’audience a parfaitement réagi, par ses questions et ses suggestions, à la qualité artistique de « Dialector » et au sens de l’humour propre à Chris Marker… Mission accomplie quand la « session » « Dialector » s’acheva sous les applaudissements du public.
[…]

Read the rest / lire la suite

Further Reading

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

Marker on the Command Line

Chris Marker, identification d’un geek from provisoire.

After discovering this video on Vimeo, our attention was directed to a post on creative.arte.tv that offers additional information about Marker’s DIALECTOR program, and two additional videos that we have included below. Marker himself is quoted summarizing the project and voicing his oft-rumored disappointment at changes at Apple that truncated his playful, very personal programming. His work on the ‘command line’ allowed allusion-filled conversations with the computer – very avant-garde at the time in this programming foray as so often in his exploration of new media.

Though we don’t know dates, it seems plausible to see DIALECTOR as a prelude to both Immemory and to Ouvroir, his digital home in Second Life. We also have some evidence, to be explored in a future post, that he used the nascent internet as an organizational tool for the construction of the 12 sequences of L’Héritage de la chouette. More on that later.

« DIALECTOR était une ébauche de programme, interrompu lorsqu’Apple a décidé que programmer était réservé aux professionnels. Il en reste des bribes, probablement incompréhensibles, ainsi qu’un spécimen de dialogue. L’original est quelque part sur des disquettes 5.25 illisibles aujourd’hui. Il est certain que si j’avais pu continuer au rythme de quelques lignes par jour, le programme aurait sans doute une réserve de conversation plus riche. » – Chris Marker, 2010

Rough translation:

DIALECTOR was a draft program, interrupted when Apple decided that programming was to be reserved for professionals. There remain some scraps, probably incomprehensible, and a specimen of dialogue. The original is somewhere on 5.25 disks – unreadable today. It is certain that if I could have continued in the rhythm of a few lines a day, the program would probably hold a reserve allowing richer conversations.

For more information, you can consult DIALECTOR, en conversation(s), published on ARTE Creative. Thank you Agnès de Cayeux for the link in your comment that led me to this post.

The summary of the Vimeo DIALECTOR video states:

Enquête autour du programme Dialector, par Agnès de Cayeux, Andrés Lozano (Loz) et Annick Rivoire, avec la voix de Paul Lafonta. Un projet soutenu par le Dicréam, présenté dans le cadre du cycle “Vidéo et après”, soirée hommage à Chris Marker au centre Pompidou, le 18 mars 2013.

Inquiry into the program Dialector, by Agnès de Cayeux, Andrés Lozano (Loz) and Annick Rivoire, with the voice of Paul Lafonta. A project supported by Diacréam, presented in the context of of the series “Video and after”, a gathering in homage to Chris Marker at the Pompidou Center, March 19, 2013.

Here are some more interactions with DIALECTOR posted on ARTE Creative:

Dialector, en conversation(s), Thoma Vuille M. CHAT et Louise Traon

Dialector, en conversation(s), Catherine Belkhodja

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