Category Archives: Second Life

Guillaume, Guillaume, Guillaume…

Guillaume, Guillaume, Guillaume (The cat named Guillaume)
Visiting Chris Marker in Second Life
Katie Rose Pipkin


I never really lived in Second Life. As an artist working in digital spaces this is patently uncool. But it is true; by the time I stumbled onto the massively multiplayer simulation it was already empty, a shrinking economy and user-base spread across a vast and often-private landscape leaving the world desolate at best.

Around this time, I attended a seminar in which a subdued Jon Rafman gave us a tour of the sim, not in his eponymous Kool-Aid man avatar, but rather (if I’m remembering correctly) as a understated goth animal, perhaps some kind of dog. We were shown around a few of Rafman’s old haunts; a sex-club, a unicorn glade; all abandoned. Eventually we went to a welcome area, where there were 20-odd avatars sitting around and voice chatting. A small, diapered man was running up against the architecture repeatedly- a winged, corseted goddess-figure was talking about their kids. When we said hello (in unison, all of us) the other players were kind and welcoming, if a bit bored. Rafman seemed surprised; he told us that this was rare culturally, that the general sentiment about his art-world tour presence (and perhaps the presence of anyone new) was animosity.

Unsettled, I didn’t visit again for at least another year.

In the meantime, I was watching Sans Soleil, Chris Marker’s 1983 experimental travel documentary. I say watching, not watched, as it turned into a process; after seeing the film several times in a month, I downloaded a text file of the script and read it like a charm, in pieces, whenever I needed to write or to think in elegance. It is still open, autosaved as Unsaved Pages Document 20. I was surprised it should be so important to me; the work is disarmingly sincere, almost saccharine at times.

He writes; “I’m writing you all this from another world, a world of appearances. In a way the two worlds communicate with each other. Memory is to one what history is to the other: an impossibility.”


Katie Rose Pipkin, “Guillaume, Guillaume, Guillaume (The cat named Guillaume): Visiting Chris Marker in Second Life”, Go to Medium to read the full text, merely excerpted above…

The Third Cat

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 }

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!

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.

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.

L’Archipel Fantôme: An Appreciation

Mary CelesteThanks to Quentin D. for alerting us to a fascinating poem-image collage narrative entitled L’Archipel Fantôme, set in the virtual space of Second Life, one of many lives known to the transmigrating cat. Though veiled with  elegant self-effacement, this rêverie bears the signature, to our senses, of the master’s hand, mind and spirit (though it is not his own, as we have learned post-post).

The story presents a kind of back and forth play of images and words, the images postcards from the rich space of the Ouvroir and neighboring or jump spaces within Second Life, the texts evocations of a search and encounter with a “sad angel” named Mary Céleste. The quote that serves as the epigraph of the site is from Giraudoux (subject of Marker’s 1952 book for Seuil Giraudoux par lui-même):

“Sa vie nouvelle éclatait déjà sur lui dans le miroir”

The archipelago, as thought-form, experience and poem, visualizes the concept of both the ancient art of memory and the bricolage of Second Life itself, a string of geographies with traversable passages between them: a hyper-natural arcade within which the poet-flâneur is guided by his avatar. The themes of fleeting personal sightings/meetings with a friend-stranger, of discreet moments of bonheur à deux that provide the emotional atmosphere of La Jetée are here, woven concisely into the stanzas (“Nous nous étions promis de nous revoir”).

The tricks of sight and memory are at play: most of the images seem phantasmatic, a mix of dream, hallucination and cinema: sometimes invisible, sometimes semi-transparent, sometimes caught within the process of mutation from one state of being to the next. The quest is less that of Marker’s photography, to capture as in a hunt, than to live within the indecisiveness of these states of image and perception.

Throughout, there is a pacing that is clearly remniscent of La Jetée and, further in the background, of the essay film, with its dense meaning yet light touch that transforms documentary into veiled self-portrait. Here the commentary of the essay film has migrated into poetry and so further condenses, like a white dwarf star. The voice seeks to find the phantom angel girl, not wishing to exhaust the images (or the angel) with words, only grace them with the touch of another medium, as if the image and the word were old friends, each aware of its particular powers, its valences and its limits.

As throughout Marker’s expeditionary career set to celluloid, the theme of traveling and its inter-spaces appears—architectures, visions seen and experienced in the process of moving from one place to another, fleetingly recorded then receding into the past of travel, space moving back into time. One of these images, which “create their own captions” (as Marker once stated as program and wish), attests to the “proof that an image can be a living organism.”

As in Sans Soleil and the book Staring Back, we brush up against the theme of the regard of and from the other. It is not now the length of a single frame of film, 1/24th of a second, nor of the desiring, voyeuristic photographer, but rather a gaze that sees through and beyond while remaining completely present. The gaze of the other shifts from an object of capture to a shared moment of being-together, inscribed emotionally rather than technologically. This is the feel of the encounter with the girl angel, black-haired with a hint of dreadlocks, pale, freckled and clothed in black. A fallen angel? Perhaps. Or an angel of history.

The presence of the encounter takes place within a respect for the intrusiveness of words: “J’évitais d’être trop bavard.” This respect keeps the encounter within the air of mystery that the seeking itself breathes. It also slyly refers to the over-abundance of words in the spaces of social networking, and how silences and listening can be as important as constantly informing an interlocutor, a stranger-friend, of every last detail. Restraint of voice becomes a respect for the miracle of the encounter, and for the unknowable palimpsest of identity. The masks of avatars reveal something already true in the event of meeting another human being: s/he is more than meets the eye. What do we really know, in an encounter, of the past, the durée, the origins and trajectory of this being?

Just as space is fluid, so too is time and memory. The poem speaks of “Deux jours, deux semaines / ou deux mois plus tard, je ne sais plus…”. Objects share this fluidity, and their world a sense of animism, as if all creations within this world were in some manner alive, negotiable in their being, ephemeral and evolving. The world is presented as a puzzle, or rebus, something to be put together to form a whole, itself part of some greater whole … in fractal succession.

The older media are not lost in this space; they become the content, as McLuhan (for whom Marker “gave up Gutenberg long ago”) promised, for the new medium: so projectors of film are themselves fluid objects embedded in the landscapes, sometimes floating freely in the air, at other times installed in intimate spaces that represent new ways of situating the moment of spectation.

The question of authorship is unimportant as fact, though it has its particles of evidence: references to Giradoux, to San Francisco (one thinks of Marker’s intensive encounter retracing the temporality and spatiality of Vertigo), to Cuba, to owls. Throughout there are images of the markerian past, including floating cubes holding images of Le Joli mai, Le Fond de l’air est rouge, Le Mystère Koumiko, and the recurrent image of Guillaume. In the thank you note on the site, the other Guillaume, Guillaume-en-Egypte, is credited as “assistant d’un photographe et vidéaste dont certaines images apparaisent ici furtivement.” That the whole production could have been put together by another, an imposter, a Marker simulacrum, only stitches it tighter into the weave of his oeuvre.

As with authorship, identity and authenticity, the primacy of the human is blurred too. Animals, angels, aliens, architectures and machines all co-exist in the phantasmatic space within which each traversing, each leg of the journey, becomes a unique experience—not re-playable, not monumentalized in any history, not encapsulated in a product with beginning and end, and as such marking another chapter, a further evocation of Marker’s “Farewell to Movies.” But every farewell holds within it the possibility of new encounters, and this work is a testament to those, even as these new encounters hold out finally the message of their own disappearance and sense of loss.

L’Archipel Fantôme: