Category Archives: Multimedia

State of the Estate II: The Glorious Shambles

Chris Marker atelier with Guillaume by Agnès Varda

In the middle, on the balcony, the tree has grown, just a little.Chris Marker

Though the article cited below focuses on the archive of Jacques Demy acquired by the Cinémathèque française, this interview, part two of a series between journalist Louis Guichard and the Cinémathèque’s head Serge Toubiana, takes a fascinating if brief detour into the case of the estate of Chris Marker. If it sounds like there’s a mystery novel in there somewhere, there is.

One of the ideas that appears here in nuce is that of mapping a tree structure of Marker’s work. I am led to imagine a majestic infographic showing the main trunk and the branches into bifurcating gardens of media visualizing the fruits of Marker’s bricolage. Immemory, Dialector, Second Life, YouTube. Collective work, personal work, anonymous work. Writing, photography, programming, book design. The branching of names, aliases, pen names, noms de guerre. Guillaume’s poptronics forays into political commentary. The filmic byproducts of Marker’s home away from home in Second Life, Ouvroir, including The Third Cat and Ouvroir: The Movie. Arborescent branchings of a life/work of intelligence and curiosity, ceaseless but ending nonetheless — though continued in all who were en-raptured by his work, echos, reverberations, new generations of artists — other trees that grew up around the central tree of life/work. And underneath the trees, the rhizomes, like the beach beneath the concrete, driving slogan of May ’68…

Here’s the excerpt that fills in some details to the already reported State of the Estate, back in June. You can follow Serge Toubiana’s blog at blog.cinematheque.fr. More of course as we know more.

L’acquisition d’archives payantes est-elle une option ?

[…]

Il y aussi le cas de Chris Marker, qui n’a pas fait de testament. Au cours des dernières années de sa vie, il était logé chez Costa-Gavras, président de la Cinémathèque, et il avait dit qu’il laisserait une lettre précisant ce qu’il voulait faire de ses archives. Mais on n’a rien trouvé de tel. A sa mort, il y a donc eu un inventaire sommaire et une recherche de descendance qui a identifié six personnes au 5e et 6e degrés… Nous leur avons fait une proposition qui a été retenue et nous avons acquis le fonds pour 40 000 euros. Nous nous sommes trouvés face à une sorte de gigantesque foutoir avec des lots énormes de photos, de négatifs, de disques durs, d’ordinateurs, tout le travail qu’il faisait sur Second Life, des centaines de petits objets, de collages, de journaux… Il gardait tout. Mais qu’en faire ? C’est un travail considérable. Nous avons constitué une équipe en interne chargée de poursuivre l’inventaire et de travailler sur le fonds numérique. De plus, un comité scientifique se réunit régulièrement. Comment montrer l’arborescence de cette œuvre hybride? Chris Marker était un média à lui tout seul. Peut-être faudra-t-il associer des ingénieurs à cette réflexion… Il y aura sans doute un événement Marker à la Cinémathèque en 2017 ou 2018.Serge Toubiana, interviewed by Louis Guichard, “Serge Toubiana : “Le don des archives Demy à la Cinémathèque est un geste de confiance et d’amitié”, www.telerama.fr

Rough English Translation

Is paying for archival acquisitions an option?

[…]

There is also the case of Chris Marker, who did not create a will. In the course of the last years of his life, he was living with Costa-Gavras, President of the Cinémathèque, and he had said that he would leave a letter specifying what he wished to do with his archives. But nothing like this was found. With his death, a summary inventory took place, along with research into his heirs that identified six persons removed by 5 or 6 degrees… We made them a proposition that was agreed upon and we acquired the estate for 40,000 Euros. We found ourselves faced with a sort of gigantic shambles, with enormous stacks of photos, negatives, hard drives, computers, all the work that he conducted in/on Second Life, hundreds of small objects, collages, journals… He kept everything. But what to do with it? It’s a considerable piece of work. We put together a team internally, charged with pursuing the inventory and working on the digital archive. In addition, a scientific committee meets regularly. How to present the tree structure of this hybrid work? Chris Marker was a media [enterprise] unto himself. Perhaps it will be necessary to have engineers consider this reflection… There will be without a doubt a Marker event at the Cinémathèque in 2017 or 2018.

Also, please stay tuned for our upcoming article on the new book ZOO, which collects the animals from the Petite Planète series Marker edited into an exciting new work.

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

Planète Marker Coming to Centre Pompidou

About Raymond Bellour

Centre PompidouThe introduction to Chris Marker for the Planète Marker exhibition & film screenings opening on October 16th at the Centre Pompidou, reprinted below, bears the signature of Raymond Bellour—in my opinion the greatest commentator on Marker, and certainly among the most innovative film theorists of our time. Bellour is the co-author, with Laurent Roth, of the excellent book Qu’est-ce qu’une Madeleine?: A propos du CD-ROM Immemory de Chris Marker. Bellour is also the co-author, with Adrian Martin, of Chris Marker: Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men.

The English version of the Petite Planète essay is followed by the original French version. I’ve also uploaded a large image of the book covers poster (produced by Wexner Center for the Arts) of the Petite Planète series Marker edited at Seuil, from which this exhibition finds its title, as Bellour notes.

Bellour’s essential work on cinema, video, corporeality, self-portrait and the essay form continually draws on Marker’s work and that of Gilles Deleuze for inspiration, and can be found in the following extraordinary books that form a kind of trilogy of deep cinematic investigation and conceptual artistry:

  1. Bellour, Raymond. L’Entre-Images. Photo. Cinéma. Vidéo. Paris: La Différence, 1990.
  2. Bellour, Raymond. L’Entre-Images 2: Mots, Images. Paris P.O.L, 1999.
  3. Bellour, Raymond. Le Corps du Cinéma: hypnoses, émotions, animalités. Paris: P.O.L., 2009.

Thankfully, L’Entre-images has at long last been translated to English. It is due to come out on in two weeks, on the 15th of October. Here’s the Amazon link for Between the Images, published by JRP|Ringier. A Spanish translation is also available.

Special thanks to Etienne Sandrin for sending the press materials our way.

planetemarker

The ‘Planète Marker’

Exposition Website: https://www.centrepompidou.fr/cpv/…
Exposition Brochure Download (PDF): Chris_Marker_Planète-Marker-Pompidou.pdf

Curation: DDC / Les cinémas, S. Pras, MnamCci / Nouveaux médias, C. Van Assche, BPI / Comprendre, A. Alliguié
Programming: Judith Revault d’Allones, Etienne Sandrin, Florence Verdeille

Update: Dossier pédagogique Planète Marker: https://mediation.centrepompidou.fr/education/ressources/ENS-chrismarker/

Expositions
16 October 2013 – 16 December 2013
from 11h00 to 21h00
Foyer – Centre Pompidou, Paris

pompidou-grounds-building-med

By Raymond Bellour, film writer and theoretician

The Centre Pompidou and the Bibliothèque Publique d’Information (BPI) are paying tribute to Chris Marker, not only through his films, it goes without saying, but also by exploring the path of his inspirations, friendships and encounters. At the heart of this journey, the exhibition includes installations and multimedia works from the Centre Pompidou collection, together with his films and videos, and a reading room at the BPI.

Raymond Bellour takes us through the ‘Planète Marker’ :

‘There are ‘century-class men’ and ‘world-class men’ – and Chris Marker was one of them. He was born in 1921, shortly after the First World War, ‘the founding moment of the last century, and its source’ (he devoted his 2005 video installation The Hollow Men to it), and was very much involved in the Second, starting off as a member of the Resistance, then enlisting in the American army. Chris Marker lived in a world haunted by the fear of a Third World War, which he looks forward to in his most famous film, La Jetée, the first film composed (almost) solely of still images, haunted by phantoms of the world of concentration camps.

Chris Marker was a photographer throughout his life, and started out as a poet, novelist, essayist, literary/ film critic and editor at the Éditions du Seuil, where he invented the Petite Planète illustrated critical guide collection. He became a film-maker in the early Fifties with a film on the Helsinki Olympic Games, and collaborated with Alain Resnais for Les statues meurent aussi, a documentary essay on Black Art and colonialism long banned by the censor. Marker went on to make at least fifty films in all formats: feature-length, short, very short, and very long. And under various pseudonyms, or more or less anonymously, he generously contributed to many other films by friends and colleagues. All his films have a constant political commitment in common, a tireless, encyclopaedic curiosity for all forms of reality and culture, and an unfailing love of animals, especially cats. He turned his cat, Guillaume-en-Égypte, into an avatar who served as his spokesman, from the creation of his CD-Rom Immemory, 1997-1998, right up to the virtual archipelago he later invented for himself in ‘Second Life’.

But above all, to construct his films, Chris Marker came up with a unique way of relating the texts he ceaselessly wrote with the images he collected throughout the world – both images shot from life and excerpts from multiple archives. André Bazin, in his commentary on Lettre de Sibérie (1957), called this ‘horizontal editing’ in order to describe the way he felt Marker edited his images: not shot-by-shot so much as ‘laterally, in a way, to what is being said about them’. The result was an inseparable meld: a primordial condition for this form of subjective essay. Marker was one of the great inventors of this genre – perhaps the greatest, continually subjecting the documentary approach to the fictional part that enabled him to develop his thread, while always talking to the ‘other’ – his virtual reader/viewer – as though to a fully alive being.

michaux

Henri Michaux

Two descriptions seem to truly pinpoint this singular identity called Chris Marker (originally Christian-François Bouche-Villeneuve). The first is so legendary that its precise reference is lost. It comes from Henri Michaux, the writer to whom Marker was probably the closest; in fact his work is sprinkled with signs that he borrowed from him in a more or less recognisable manner. Michaux was also the model for Marker’s legendary discretion, and his concern to preserve himself as much as was humanly possible from any kind of publicity, and any consent to the media society. Michaux said, ‘The Sorbonne should be pulled down and Chris Marker set up in its place.’ The suggestion here is, for example, that L’Héritage de la chouette, Marker’s television series of thirteen 26-minute episodes on the culture of Ancient Greece, should feature on the curriculum of all French schools. The second description comes from Alain Resnais, in an interview in (almost) the first special issue of a review dedicated to Marker in 1963. Resnais attributed to a Chris Marker apparently little satisfied with the idea of the review the words he imagined he would use to evade any kind of obligation: ‘… I am a free man, and I only want to do what I like.’ But, emphasising how much he felt his friend’s work should be studied, Resnais said at the end of the interview: ‘We talk about the Leonardo da Vinci method; perhaps we shall soon be talking about the Chris Marker method. I would even go as far as to say that Marker is superior to Leonardo, because Marker always follows everything he starts right through.’

This stresses the unique character as well as the importance of his work, which became evident very early on, and which went on developing according to an essentially exploratory curiosity, as history turned up yet another surprise. And he was always right up to date with the technological changes that could cause shifts in an endlessly reinvented relationship between words and images. With books albums, photos, films, videos, installations, CD-Roms and the Internet, Marker’s work continually explored every medium, inspiring an ever-increasing number of film directors and artists all over the world – up until his sudden death, barely a year ago, on the day he reached 91. So this is everything the ‘Planète Marker’ event would like to celebrate, faithful to the spirit of the book collection through which he once helped to transform French publishing.’

Planète Marker

Expositions

16 octobre 2013 – 16 décembre 2013
de 11h00 à 21h00
Foyer – Centre Pompidou, Paris

Exposition Forum – 1 (commissaire; C Van Assche)
Salon de lecture (Bibilothèque. 1er étage. Arlette Aliguié et Florence Verdeille).
Ensuite un programme rétrospective de films et vidéos programmée par Sylvie Pras, avec Judith Revault d’Allonnes, Etienne Sandrin, Florence Verdeille.
L’exposition est jusqu’au 16 décembre, le programme jusqu’au 20 décembre.

Entrée libre / Dans la mesure des places disponibles

Par Raymond Bellour, écrivain et théoricien de cinéma

Le Centre Pompidou et la Bibliothèque publique d’information (Bpi) rendent hommage à Chris Marker, à travers ses films bien sûr mais aussi en suivant la piste de ses inspirations, de ses amitiés et de ses rencontres… Au coeur de ce voyage, l’exposition de ses installations et des oeuvres multimédias rassemblées dans la collection du Centre Pompidou, ses films et vidéos et un salon de lecture à la Bpi.

Raymond Bellour parcourt pour nous la Planète Marker :

« Il y a des hommes-siècles, des hommes-mondes. Chris Marker fut un de ces hommes. Né en 1921, peu après la Première Guerre mondiale, « le moment fondateur du siècle dernier, sa source » (il lui consacrera en 2005 son installation vidéo The Hollow Men), pleinement acteur de la Seconde (résistant, puis engagé dans l’armée américaine), Chris Marker aura vécu dans la hantise de la Troisième Guerre mondiale dont il a projeté l’image dans son film le plus célèbre, La Jetée, le premier film sans doute composé (quasi) uniquement d’images fixes, hanté par les fantômes de l’univers concentrationnaire.

Photographe sa vie durant, et d’abord écrivain, poète, romancier, essayiste, critique (littéraire et cinématographique), directeur éditorial au Seuil où il invente la collection de guides critiques illustrés « Petite Planète », Chris Marker devint cinéaste au début des années 1950 avec un film sur les Jeux olympiques d’Helsinki et en collaborant avec Alain Resnais pour Les statues meurent aussi, essai documentaire sur l’art nègre et le colonialisme, longtemps interdit par la censure. Depuis, Marker a réalisé une cinquantaine de films au moins, de tous formats, des longs, des courts, des très courts, des très longs. Et il a collaboré amicalement, sous divers pseudonymes comme plus ou moins anonymement, à un nombre considérable d’autres films de divers amis et complices. Tous ses films ont en commun un engagement politique constant ; une curiosité encyclopédique inlassable pour toutes les formes de la réalité et de la culture ; un amour indéfectible des animaux et avant tout des chats (il a ainsi transfiguré son chat, Guillaume-en-Égypte, en un intercesseur qui lui sert de porte-parole depuis la création de son CDRom Immemory, 1997-1998, et jusque dans l’archipel virtuel qu’il s’est plus tard aménagé sur « Second Life »).

Mais, surtout, Chris Marker a inventé une façon unique de rapporter les textes qu’il ne cesse d’écrire pour ses films aux images qu’il a recueillies à travers le monde afin de les construire (images captées dans la réalité aussi bien qu’extraites de multiples archives). C’est ce qu’André Bazin, commentant Lettre de Sibérie (1957), appelait « montage horizontal » afin de saisir la façon dont Marker lui semblait monter ses images, plus que de plan à plan, « latéralement en quelque sorte à ce qui en est dit ». De sorte à créer un mixte indissociable, condition primordiale de cette forme de l’essai subjectif dont Marker a été l’un des grands inventeurs, peut-être le plus grand, soumettant ainsi continuellement la réflexion documentaire à la part de fiction qui lui permet de s’élaborer en toujours s’adressant à l’autre, son lecteur-spectateur virtuel, comme à un être pleinement vivant.

tokyoga-cm-eye

Chris Marker, still from Wim Wenders’ Tokyo-Ga, Zone-ified

Deux formulations semblent cerner au mieux cette identité singulière qui a nom Chris Marker (ainsi s’est transformé son nom de Christian-François Bouche-Villeneuve). La première est devenue mythique au point que sa référence précise fait défaut. Elle est due à Henri Michaux, l’écrivain dont Marker a sans doute été le plus proche, tant son oeuvre est parsemée de signes qu’il lui emprunte de façon plus ou moins reconnaissable. Michaux a aussi été son modèle pour sa discrétion légendaire, son souci de se préserver autant qu’il est humainement possible de toute forme de publicité et de consentement à la société médiatique. Michaux disait ainsi : « Il faudrait raser la Sorbonne et mettre Chris Marker à la place ». C’est supposer par exemple que L’Héritage de la chouette, série télévisée de 13 fois 26 minutes consacrée par Marker à la culture de la Grèce antique, devrait figurer au programme de toutes les écoles de France. La seconde formulation est due à Alain Resnais, dans un entretien figurant dans le (presque) premier numéro spécial de revue consacré à Marker en 1963. Resnais lui prêtait, apparemment peu satisfait de l’idée, les mots par lesquels il l’imaginait vouloir se soustraire à toute forme d’obligation : « … je suis un homme libre et je ne veux faire que ce qui me plaît ». Mais, soulignant à quel point il lui semblait nécessaire d’étudier l’oeuvre de son ami, Resnais avançait en fin d’entretien : « On dit : la méthode de Léonard de Vinci ; peut-être que bientôt on pourra dire : la méthode de Chris Marker. J’aurais même tendance à dire que Marker est plus fort que Léonard de Vinci, car Marker, lui, va toujours au bout de ce qu’il entreprend. »

C’était dire le caractère unique en même temps que l’importance très tôt entrevue de son oeuvre qui n’a cessé de se développer au gré d’une curiosité essentiellement voyageuse, au rythme des soubresauts de l’histoire et toujours à la pointe des mutations technologiques susceptibles de déplacer un rapport sans cesse réinventé entre les mots et les images. Livre, album, photo, film, vidéo, installation, CD-Rom, Internet, cette oeuvre Marker aura tout traversé, continuellement, inspirant un nombre toujours plus grand de cinéastes et d’artistes à travers le monde. Jusqu’à sa mort soudaine, il y un an à peine, le jour de ses 91 ans. Voilà tout ce que, fidèle à l’esprit de la collection de livres par laquelle il a autrefois contribué à transformer l’édition française, l’événement « Planète Marker » voudrait célébrer. »

Cette manifestation est organisée par le Département du développement culturel, le Musée national d’Art Moderne du Centre Pompidou et la Bibliothèque Publique d’Information dans le cadre du Festival d’Automne à Paris.

En collaboration avec le Mois du film documentaire

Commissaire : DDC / Les cinémas, S. Pras, MnamCci / Nouveaux médias, C. Van Assche, BPI / Comprendre, A. Alliguié


RETROSPECTIVE PLANETE MARKER – Bande-annonce VF by CoteCine

Video et Après: Chris Marker Vu Par… @ Pompidou Center

centre-georges-pompidou-logoWe just received notice of a unique event from Etienne Sandrin at the Centre Pompidou. If you’re in Paris on Tuesday the 18th of March, be sure to visit. A rough English translation is below the original French. Enjoy!

VIDEO ET APRÈS
CHRIS MARKER VU PAR…
LUNDI 18 MARS / 18H00 / CINÉMA 1

Philosophe, écrivain, musicien, cinéaste, vidéaste, plasticien, computer geek, amis des chats, Chris Marker, disparu en 2012, laisse derrière lui une œuvre unique.

ouvroir-guillaumePassionnément curieux, résolument engagé, il a accompagné les évolutions et les révolutions sociales, politiques, techniques, culturelles, esthétiques de son temps avec une inventivité et une intelligence inégalées. Cette séance sera une évocation, évidemment fragmentaire de son œuvre, de la création des ‘Petites Planètes’ aux éditions du Seuil dans les années cinquante jusqu’en 2012, avec l’Ouvroir réalisé sur la plateforme 3D Second Life et Gorgomancy, site internet évolutif qui rassemble plusieurs œuvres de l’artiste.

La séance alternera des projections d’extraits avec une visite du monde de Marker dans Second Life, ainsi que la présentation d’un ensemble de contributions d’artistes réalisées à l’invitation du Centre Pompidou, en écho avec son œuvre.

Avec la participation et les contributions d’ Agnès de Cayeux, François Crémieux, Guillaume-en-Egypte, Clarisse Hahn, Isaac Julien, Paul Lafonta, Matthieu Laurette, Pierre Leguillon, Rainier Lericolais, Andrés Lozano, Max Moswitzer, Annick Rivoire, David Sanson, Caecilia Tripp, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries.

Here’s a rough translation:

Philosopher, writer, musician, filmmaker, video artist, visual artist, computer geek, friend of cats, Chris Marker, vanished in 2012, leaves behind him a unique body of work.

Passionately curious, resolutely engaged, he accompanied the evolutions and revolutions of his time – social, political, technical, cultural, aesthetic – with an inventiveness and intelligence without equal. This showing will be an evocation, fragmentary of course, of his work, from the creation of the “Petites Planètes” books at Éditions du Seuil in the ’50s all the way to 2012 with Ouvroir, realized on the 3D platform of Second Life, and Gorgomancy, an evolving website that brought together multiple works of the artist.

The showing will alternate screenings of extracts with a visit to Marker’s world in Second Life, along with the presentation of a group of artistic contributions, brought about at the invitation of the Pompidou Center and resonating with Marker’s work.

With the participation and contributions of Agnès de Cayeux, François Crémieux, Guillaume-en-Egypte, Clarisse Hahn, Isaac Julien, Paul Lafonta, Matthieu Laurette, Pierre Leguillon, Rainier Lericolais, Andrés Lozano, Max Moswitzer, Annick Rivoire, David Sanson, Caecilia Tripp, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries.

Beirut Art Center Presents Chris Marker Exhibition “Par quatre chemins”

Source: www.beirutartcenter.org
Location: Jisr El Wati – Off Corniche an Nahr. Building 13, Street 97, Zone 66 Adlieh. Beirut, Lebanon.
Dates: November 25.10 – January 29.11
Opening reception: Wednesday November 24, from 6 pm to 9 pm

About the exhibition

“Beirut Art Center is pleased to present a solo exhibition dedicated to the influential French artist and filmmaker Chris Marker. Marker is best known for his cinematic essays that explore the notions of truth, history, and memory, and that push the boundaries of the documentary.

Otolith InstallationThe show at Beirut Art Center will present Staring Back (2007), Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men (2005) and Immemory (1997).

Staring Back is a collection of over 200 black and white prints selected from Marker’s personal archive of faces encountered by the artist throughout the course of his travels. Pivotal political events such as the riots of May 1968 and protests in Japan and Tibet loom large, alongside famous figures such as Akira Kurosawa and countless unforgettable and unknown others, in this hauntingly captivating portrait of humanity in the 20th century.

Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men
is a multi-screen installation inspired by T.S. Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men (1925), a woeful elegy on the devastation wrought by World War I onto Europe. Marker combines his reflections on Eliot’s writing with images of atrocities, ruins, and victims in this morose commentary on the cyclical nature of violence throughout history and its lurking shadow in times of peace.

The CD-ROM Immemory is a poetic “voyage” into Marker’s inner world through text and photography. The work departs from fragments of the artist’s autobiography to touch on the social and political in its investigation of the relationship between time, memory and the world.

On the occasion of the exhibition, London based artists The Otolith Group will also present their work Inner Time of Television (2007), a collaboration with Chris Marker. The publication and thirteen-screen installation features a thirteen-part television program created by Marker on the cultural heritage of ancient Greece entitled L’Héritage de la chouette (The Owl’s Legacy, 1989). The Otolith Group’s oeuvre explores connections between the past, present and future, and is influenced by Marker in its investigation of memory through the image and its sharp criticism of contemporary politics.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of talks by curators and theorists as well as screenings of films by Chris Marker at Beirut Art Center and Metropolis.

The exhibition and accompanying screenings are supported by the Mission culturelle française au Liban.”

In parallel with the exhibition, the Beirut Art Center, in collaboration with Metropolis Cinema and the Mission culturelle française au Liban, will be screening a series of Chris Marker films December 1st through 18th, 2010. These include Sans Soleil; Loin du Vietnam; La Jetée; Les Statues Meurent Aussi; L’Ambassade; Le Fond de l’air est rouge; and Level 5.

Scenes from La Salle

As a visual addendum to the recent Beaubourg + Second Life screening of La Jetée, organized by Les Films du Jeudi, we present some images Laurence Braunberger sent along, for which we are grateful. The cinema and the screening room for the event (and we hope of course that it is the beginning of a series) were constructed by Max Moswitzer aka MosMax Hax and the bar La Jetée (based on the famous Tokyo watering hole as seen, among other places, in Wenders’ Tokyo Ga) by Frederick Thompson aka Balthasar Truffaut.

Les Films du Jeudi informs us that on the front of the virtual cinema you could find this notice:

La Jetée (1962) is a 28-minute black and white science fiction film by Chris Marker. Constructed almost entirely from still photos, it tells the story of a post-nuclear war experiment in time travel. The film won the Prix Jean Vigo in 1963 for best short film.

Synopsis: In a Paris devastated in the aftermath of WWIII, the few surviving humans begin researching time travel, hoping to send someone back to the pre-war world in search of food, supplies and perhaps a solution to their dire situation. One man is haunted by a vague childhood memory that is to prove fateful.

Chris Marker aka Sergei Murasaki is a French Filmmaker, part-time photographer, computer geek, traveler, cat lover.

In virtual worlds, he deliberately enters the “Ouvroir” prepared for him by MosMax Hax aka Max Moswitzer and plays with his own work, in the company of his longtime guide, Guillaume-en-Egypte, a cat and a furry entity in Second Life. When asked for a photograph of himself, Chris provides one of his Guillaume-en-Egypte.

Childhood Amnesia (L’amnésie Infantile) (2009) is a 15 minute mixed media short born in SL. The film has been described as a cinematographic love letter to La Jetée of Chris Marker and as a response and answer to his cult film.

Synopsis: A gas is released making mankind immortal, but also sterile. Despite the infinite opportunities made possible, mankind quickly becomes disillusioned. To prevent widespread depression, a machine is invented to enable people to travel through memory…

Indira Solovieva aka Vivre Mai was born in India to a family of Russian/Polish artists. She currently lives in France. Until now, Indira’s primary media have been writing and musical composition. Childhood Amnesia is her first short film.

La Jetée bar is the famous Tokyo hang out for filmmakers around the world. Francis Ford Coppola, Wim Wenders (who immortalized the bar in his docu-pic, Tokyo-Ga), Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarentino and of course Chris Marker himself each have their personal bottles, painted with a cat. This bar was specially recreated in SL by Frederick Thompson aka Balthasar Truffaut, a French media artist.

Les Films du Jeudi Screens La Jetée in Second Life

Though we missed the party, we did want to let you know about a unique event organized by Les Films du Jeudi, who on the 5th of November held a screening of Chris Marker’s La Jétee simultaneously at the Centre Pompidou and within Second Life.

Marker’s film, whose fame has grown by leaps and bounds worldwide since its 1962 release (one need only search for the title on Twitter to see the many tweets in myriad languages that reference the always-fresh frisson of discovery) and whose impact on viewers and place in film history has only deepened through time, was paired in the dual event with Indira Solovieva’s Childhood Amnesia (L’amnésie infantile) (2009-15mins).

As Marker’s Second Life installation Ouvroir, a virtual gallery of things past, cinematic homage and aleatory encounter, had already realized the dream of architecting a viewing space / screening room online, it is fitting that the distributor of some of his most sought after short films would layer this homage within a Zone of the space he embraced, within the gesture of a ‘farewell to cinema,’ as a destination for those traveling without moving.

We received a nice note, invitation and press release from Les Films du Jeudi, stating:

Even if only for an evening, I wanted to put together Chris Marker’s film-myth La Jetée (1962 -28 mins) with Indira Solovieva’s Childhood Amnesia (L’amnésie infantile) (2009-15mins) at Beaubourg and also on Second Life so that everyone, wherever they may be, may see or rediscover this movie.
Come and join us to find out why…
– Laurence Braunberger

Braunberger is, among other things, the Producer of Marker’s Chats perchés and, according to IMDB, the Manager of Les Films de la Pléiade, Producer and Manager of Les Films du Jeudi and Manager of Les Films du Panthéon.

Solovieva’s film receives the following synopsis in the accompanying press release for this event:

A gas is released making mankind immortal, but also sterile. Despite the infinite opportunities made possible, mankind quickly becomes disillusioned. To prevent widespread depression, a machine is invented to enable people to travel through memory…

The Chris Marker catalog at Les Films du Jeudi includes the following gems, some available as extras on existing DVDs, other still awaiting what one might wish could be a comprehensive DVD collection of the Marker’s wonderful, wide-ranging shorts:

  • Berliner Ballade de Chris MARKER (1990) – 29 mns
  • Casque Bleu de Chris MARKER (1995) – 26 mns
  • Chat écoutant la musique de Chris MARKER (1990) – 2 mns
  • Chats Perchés de Chris Marker (2003) – 59 mns
  • Détour, Ceaucescu de Chris MARKER (1990) – 8 mns
  • E-clip-se de Chris MARKER (1999) – 8 mns
  • From Chris to Christo de Chris MARKER (1985) – 24 mns
  • L’Ambassade de Chris MARKER (1973) – 20 mns
  • Le 20 heures dans les camps de Chris MARKER (1993) – 28 mns
  • Matta ’85 de Chris MARKER (1985) – 14 mns
  • Sixième face du Pentagone (La) de François REICHENBACH & Chris MARKER (1967) – 27 mns
  • Slon Tango de Chris MARKER (1990) – 4 mns
  • Théorie des ensembles de Chris MARKER (1990) – 11 mns
  • Trois vidéos Haïkus de Chris MARKER (1994) – 3 mns

You can view the Jeudi catalog here: www.filmsdujeudi.com.

You can view the invitation (again, late, we apologize) here, in pdf format.

I remember fondly a summer of research on Chris Marker in 1991, where I spent the month of July exploring the resources of the Cinématèque in Les Halles with its mezmerizing robotic retrieval system and personal viewing/research stations (at one of which Marker was himself working). I also remember the cassettes that could be checked out in much more manual fashion at the Centre Pompidou—most vivid is my one and to date only viewing at Beaubourg of Si j’avais quatre dromedaires—as well as encountering Marker himself at the Les Halles “Forum des Images” (which did much to ‘quicken the heart’)—a story for another time…

The Second Life of Chris Marker

Presented below is the official press release distributed by The Harvard Film Archive for its upcoming film series and live event. You can also view the program at the HFA site.

THE HARVARD FILM ARCHIVE PRESENTS
THE SECOND LIFE OF CHRIS MARKER
MAY 9 – MAY 16, 2009

CAMBRIDGE, MA: The Harvard Film Archive is thrilled to host a virtual event with legendary filmmaker Chris Marker titled THE SECOND LIFE OF CHRIS MARKER, on May 16. The event, which will take place in the virtual world of Second Life, will be preceded by screenings of Marker’s films May 9-11.

Chris Marker's OuvroirChris Marker (b. 1921) has been a source of continual fascination and endless speculation since he first emerged in the 1950s as one of the most original and elusive voices of the post-World War II French cinema. A brilliant practitioner and early pioneer of the essay film (In a revision of this text Marker was careful to assert that he did not “invent” the essay film and points to Nicole Védrès and her 1949 La Vie Commence Demain as a major influence upon his embrace of the essay form), Marker’s best known works are animated by a simultaneously playful and philosophical intertwining of documentary and fiction filmmaking techniques and traditions. The dense yet lyrical poesis of montage and voice created across Marker’s films found its fullest expression in Sans Soleil (1982), his celebrated meditation on travel, memory and cultural difference. Among the most politically committed and perceptive European directors, Marker has also created a series of pointed documentary interventions recovering repressed and repressive histories of dissent, whether locally, as in The Sixth Side of the Pentagon (1967), or globally, as in his tragic, sweeping magnum opus A Grin Without a Cat (1978).

Marker has remained famously indifferent to the popular spotlight – leaving all public appearances to Guillaume-en-Egypte, the ginger cat who serves as his pseudonym, mascot and muse – and adamant about his need for unmitigated independence as an artist (while not ruling out occasional work with select collaborators). Marker’s desire for a fully self-sufficient means of production, together with his search for a liberated narrative form to explore the slippages and superimpositions of individual and collective memory has drawn him to experiment with an incredible range of image technologies, from the photo book in his early years to small gauge 16mm and Super-8 cinema and then to video and video games and, most recently, the CD-ROM and Internet. Marker, whose work from as early as La jetée (1962) is deeply informed by science fiction, has an uncanny ability to predict the future and to be there already. In 2008, a commission for the Design Museum in Zürich gave way to the landmark exhibition Chris Marker. A Farewell to Movies, for which Marker, together with Viennese architect Max Moswitzer, created a cyber museum in the virtual world Second Life in order to reexamine and share examples of his photography, films and installation work. The Harvard Film Archive is proud to join Marker for an extremely rare live tour of his Second Life museum, Ouvroir, on Saturday, May 16th and, as a prelude, to present a focused retrospective of his films.

This program is co-presented by Icarus Films on the occasion of their release on DVD of nine Chris Marker films. Special thanks: Jonathan Miller and Lori Fried, Icarus Films; Lucien Bookmite; Max Moswitzer; Naomi Yang, Exact Change Press; Brigitte Bouvier and Eric Jausseran, Consulate General of France, Boston.

Chris Marker Screening Schedule

The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chats perchés)
Saturday May 9 at 7pm
In his latest film Chris Marker offers a lively, roaming examination of political dissent in 21st century France and an energetic return to the film essay form that he pioneered. Intrigued by the enigmatic appearance of an insouciant graffiti cat, grinning from ear to ear, perched defiantly high across the walls of Paris, Marker set out to track the feline pattern and the broader mood of the post-9/11 city. Marker’s search eventually leads him to discover a sudden reassertion of political voice by Parisian youth, a spirited defiance to the American invasion of Iraq and the insurgent French ultra-right, with the grinning cat an icon and emblematic participant.
Directed by Chris Marker.
France 2004, video, color, 58 min. French with English subtitles
Followed by
Sans Soleil
Marker’s ruminative, melancholy masterpiece channels the imagination of a lonely traveling cameraman—evoked in letters from distant Africa and Japan—into a profound meditation on the creative conjuring powers of memory, place and image. Among the most brilliant examples of the essay film, Sans Soleil uses a lyrical, associative structure to transform modern Japan into a vivid metaphor for the scintillating mosaic of fact, fiction and fantasy that defines the increasingly mediated image world in which we live. A crucial bridge between Marker’s adventurous earlier travel films and his growing interest in media and technology, Sans Soleil is one of Marker’s most dazzling and inexhaustible works.
Directed by Chris Marker.
France 1982, 16mm, color, 100 min. With English narration

A Grin Without a Cat (Le fond de l’air est rouge)
Sunday May 10 at 7pm
Marker’s incomparable editing skills attained a new level of sublimity and subtlety in his epic chronicle of the international New Left’s spectacular rise and fall. At turns mordant and mournful, A Grin Without a Cat uses an extraordinary range of source material – newsreels, propaganda films and Marker’s own footage – to construct a polyphonic, immersive and critical history of political struggle. “I am not boasting that I made a dialectical film. But I have tried for once (having in my time frequently abused the power of the directive commentary) to give back to the spectator, through the montage, “his” commentary, that is, his power.” – C.M.
Directed by Chris Marker.
France 1978, 35mm, color, 180 min. French with English subtitles

The Embassy (L’Ambassade)
Monday May 11 at 7pm
A potent study of political disorientation, state terrorism and exile, Marker’s “anonymous” 1973 Super-8 film reads as an allegory and vivid evocation of the violent paroxysms and unrest roiling Latin America and much of the world at the time.Directed by Chris Marker.France 1973, video, color, 21 min. French with English subtitles
Followed by
The Sixth Side of the Pentagon (La sixième face du Pentagone)
Marker’s charged rendering of the October 21, 1967 march on the Pentagon was made for a French “television magazine” and later distributed by the Franco-Belgian film collective, SLON). Integrating still photographs, voiceover commentary and dramatic actuality footage, Marker’s hard-hitting short represents a forcible mode of alternative reportage, a type of counter-newsreel made during a period of intense distrust of the mainstream media.
Directed by Chris Marker, François Reichenbach.
France 1967, video, b/w and color, 26 min. French with English subtitles
And
Sans Soleil
[see description above]

Special Event Tickets $10
Chris Marker’s Second Life, A Live Event
Saturday May 16 at 7pm

In conjunction with the 2008 exhibition Chris Marker. A Farewell to Movies at the Design Museum in Zurich, Chris Marker presented a series of exhibits of photography, film clips, video installations and other media work, all contained within a radically futuristic museum created in the popular virtual world and free Internet portal, Second Life. Designed and frequently updated by Viennese architect and computer guru Max Moswitzer and Margarete Jahrmann, Marker´s museum hovers motionless above the virtual archipelago Ouvroir, a creative geography of mysterious islands, sculptures and uncanny architecture. Over time, Ouvroir has continued to transform and expand as an interactive environment with new structures and exhibition spaces appearing regularly and often containing content related to Marker’s work.

Always at the very cutting edge of technological innovation, Marker long ago fully embraced the digital and virtual, producing in 1996 perhaps the only lasting and artistically ambitious CD-ROM, the fabulous Immemory, which expanded Marker’s fascination with the playful mirages of memory, history and the moving image into a nonlinear and engrossingly interactive environment. In 2006, Marker premiered a new film, the one minute Leila Attacks, on YouTube (where it can still be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iParBp8cS0w). Marker has also been working for many years in digital photography, with a new exhibition, Quelle heure est-elle? opening in May at New York’s Peter Blum Gallery.

The Harvard Film Archive is pleased to host a truly historic live encounter with Chris Marker’s Second Life. Marker, who has often been sited – in the form of his avatar – in Ouvroir, has generously agreed to lead a guided tour and offer commentary on his latest creation, including special single-channel presentations of his video pieces Silent Movie and The Hollow Men, an occasion made all the more meaningful by the recent announcement that the museum will be dismantled later this year.

Harvard Film Archive
24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 495-4700
https://hcl.harvard.edu/hfa
Tickets for regular screenings are $8 General Admission, $6 Harvard faculty and staff, seniors and non-Harvard students. Harvard students free to regular events. Tickets to special event screenings are $10.
Tickets go on sale 45 minutes prior to show time. The HFA does not do advance ticket sales.

Press Contact:
Brooke Holgerson
Publicity and Outreach
Harvard Film Archive
24 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-496-3211
holgers {at} fas.harvard.edu

Cactus Land

WHAT IS “CACTUS LAND” IF NOT BARBED WIRE?

Chris Marker Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men, 72.

Cactus Land - Chris Marker Owls at Noon: The Hollow Men

Owls at noon, night birds in the day, things, objects, images that don’t belong, and yet are there. Leaflets, postcards, stamps, graffiti, forgotten photographs, frames stolen from the continuous and senseless flow of TV stuff (what I’d call the Duchamp syndrome: once I’ve spotted 1/50th of a second that escaped everybody, including its author, this 1/50th of a second is mine). Bringing into the light events and people who normally never access it. It’s from that raw material, the petty cash of history, that I try to extract a subjective journey through the 20th century.

Everybody agrees that the founding moment of that era, its mint, was the First World War, and that it was also the background on which T.S. Eliot wrote his beautiful and desperate poem The Hollow Men. So the Prelude to the journey will be a reflection upon that poem, mixed with some images gathered from the limbos of my memory.

After reproducing the above passage, Raymond Bellour, in his essay “Marker’s Gesture,” comments: “These lines, dated 6 April 2005, appeared (in English) at the entry of the dark room where Chris Marker’s Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men was presented, on the occasion of the Museum of Modern Art’s reopening in New York.” [13]

Martin, Adrian and Raymond Bellour, Chris Marker Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men, Brisbane, Australia: Institute of Modern Art, 2008.

Chris Marker
Owls At Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men 2005
two-channel eight-LCD-screen video installation
19 minutes.
All images courtesy Peter Blum Gallery, New York

Update 11/2016: Currently up at www.ima.org.au/chris-marker-owls-at-noon…:

owls-at-noon-bw

CHRIS MARKER: OWLS AT NOON PRELUDE – THE HOLLOW MEN

10 April–26 May 2007

Born in 1921, French director Chris Marker has been making films since the 1950s and is a pioneer of the film-essay. His approach developed out of his early experiences making travel books, combining images with texts. His big subjects are memory and travel, which are explored in relation to his media: film and photography.

Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollow Men was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art for its reopening in 2004. Marker’s nineteen-minute eight-screen video installation—the first part of an envisaged history of the twentieth century—was inspired by a T.S. Eliot poem reflecting on Europe as a wasteland following World War One. Marker mixes texts with still photographs of wounded veterans and achingly beautiful women to evoke the hopelessness of those who lived through Europe’s near suicide early last century, as war returns to haunt us in the Middle East. The atmospheric soundtrack is Corona by Toru Takemitsu, performed by Australian pianist Roger Woodward.

Marker explains: ‘Owls at noon, night birds in the day, things, objects, images that don’t belong, and yet are there. Leaflets, postcards, stamps, graffiti, forgotten photographs, frames stolen from the continuous and senseless flow of TV stuff (what I’d call the Duchamp syndrome: once I’ve spotted 1/50th of a second that escaped everybody, including its author, this 1/50th of a second is mine). Bringing into the light events and people who normally never access it. It’s from that raw material, the petty cash of history, that I try to extract a subjective journey through the twentieth century. Everybody agrees that the founding moment of that era, its mint, was the First World War, and that it was also the background on which T.S. Eliot wrote his beautiful and desperate poem The Hollow Men. So the Prelude to the journey will be a reflection upon that poem, mixed with some images gathered from the limboes of my memory.’

Marker has long been involved in exploring new media, from the crude, early video effects in his 1983 flaneur film Sans Soleil to his hypertextual 1998 CDRom Immemory. The Hollow Men continues this inquiry, with the computer-graphics treatments of its photographic images suggesting both the softness of watercolours and petrification.

Alongside The Hollow Men we are showing Marker’s 1962 science-fiction short La Jetée, a story of time-travel, memory, and impossible love, which has inspired many other films, including Terry Gilliam’s 1995 feature Twelve Monkeys. This deeply melancholy tale is also told using black-and-white photographs, and also concerns the aftermath of a war, an imagined World War Three.

Thanks to Peter Blum Gallery, New York.