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

THE THIRD CAT from gorrr aka. Mosmax on Vimeo.

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

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

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:

The Nine Lives of Guillaume-en-Égypte

The French “pop lab” – extension São Paulo – poptronics has published a special “poster-journal” edition devoted to Chris Marker, or more precisely, to his omnipresent feline parallel self, Guillaume-en-Égypte, entitled guillaume-en-égypte au brésil/no brasil (numéro 11, 10/2009).

poptronics n.11Throughout, the issue uses as backgrounds photographs, devolved to duotones, that seem to tease at revealing the working space of a cinephile, librarian, collector, cat lover, scholar, artist – enfin, bricoleur. One spots statues of cats and owls, DVDs, cassettes,  books (Nuit et brouillard, Tarkovsky interviews, Fritz Lang, Tel quel) all piled to the rafters like a wonderful personal museum conspiring to both present and hide decades of accumulation, research, gifts, cultural obsessions. The media are all there, old and new, and at one point Guillaume (the circumstantial origins of whose name is revealed in the answer to question number one) admits that the “new” media, far from being overwhelming, are not moving fast enough for him. Throughout, the irony, the winks and nods of a master migrated into second life bleed through the cartoon fabric, even as this fabric grows rich with exotic dyes and grunge layouts.

This poptronics poster-journal, released around the end of a major Chris Marker exhibition in São Paolo that garnered many tweets of adoring Brazilian fans, consists of an amazing array of cartoon productions featuring Guillaume, the ultimate avatar, presented in a dizzying collage format, along with a fanciful interview, with the following introduction:

Un chat pigiste mégalo. Un chat dessiné à la main et citoyen du Net. Guillaume-en-Egypte, avec ses traits noirorange et ses bulles drôlissimes, n’est pas un chat ordinaire. Plus avant-gardiste que ses cousins Krazy Kat et autres Grinning Cat, ce félin-là nage comme un poisson dans l’eau sur le site poptronics, média français des cultures électroniques, et vole dans Second Life. Pour rendre hommage à cette star du réseau, poptronics a conçu, sur invitation de son pop’commissaire au Brésil Benjamin Seroussi, ce pop’lab exceptionnel : un magazine qui traverse l’océan, de la France au Brésil, tente l’aventure bilingue et la prouesse graphique du deux en un (affichejournal), pour fêter son incroyable vie de fiction. Tête d’affiche côté face, Guillaume lève le voile côté pile sur ses « neuf vies » (pp. 04-17/32’), se laisse conter par Annick Rivoire, fondatrice de poptronics (pp. 20- 21/32’), Etienne Sandrin, du Centre Pompidou (pp. 24- 25/32’), et Agnès de Cayeux, artiste du réseau (pp. 28-29/32’).

Here’s the conversation of the Poptronics crew with the Cat himself:

1. Guillaume-en-Egypte, tu n’as pas grand-chose d’abyssin, alors d’où vient ton nom ?

Bricoleur Chris MarkerChat trouvé, on m’avait donné un nom quelconque. Un jour, Chris teste une caméra empruntée (du genre qui permet les sous-titres « de vacances »). Le possesseur de la caméra a un enfant nommé Guillaume, il vient de l’emmener en égypte, et le sous-titre est resté incrusté. Chris cadre la seule chose intéressante dans la maison – moi – et s’écrie : « C’est ton vrai nom ! » Or C’ÉTAIT mon vrai nom. (cf. le poème bien connu de T.S. Eliot : « Tout chat a un nom secret, qu’il est seul à connaître. »)

2. As-tu plusieurs vies comme tous les chats, celle du « vrai » chat qui aidait Chris Marker à monter ses films, celle du chat faxeur qui commentait le monde tel qu’il va mal pour son cercle d’amis, celle du chat guide numérique dans le CDrom « Immemory », dans « Chats perchés » ou sur Second Life, celle du commentateur acide sur l’Internet dans « Un regard moderne » et aujourd’hui sur poptronics ?

Ça n’en fait que cinq, Il m’en reste quatre mais ce sont mes quatre vies privées.

3. Pourquoi avoir choisi l’Internet comme territoire de chasse ? Et, accessoirement, pourquoi le site poptronics (et pas un grand média généraliste) ?

Pourquoi, il y a plus chic que poptronics ?

4. Un chat pigiste, franchement, qui tu crois que ça peut mystifier ?

Lincoln disait : « Un chat peut mystifier tout le monde quelque temps, quelquesuns tout le temps, pas tout le monde tout le temps. » Il ne me connaissait pas.

5. Techniquement, tu te prends pour qui ? Tes collages font penser à l’esthétique DIY (do it yourself), presque punk (post-Bazooka), en tout cas contemporaine du home studio et des pratiques culturelles sur les réseaux (les vidéos de partage sur Youtube, les photomontages potaches, etc.). Le mélange que tu concoctes de dessins, bulles de bandes dessinées et repiquage d’images d’actualité est volontairement réalisé « à l’économie ». C’est pour maintenir ton indépendance ou par souci d’efficacité ?

Simplement pour aller plus vite. Mes neuf vies sont très remplies, vous savez.

6. Te sens-tu appartenir à une famille, celle qui aurait comme ancêtre le Grinning Cat de Lewis Caroll, comme oncle d’Amérique Felix the Cat, comme cousin oriental « le Chat du rabbin », et comme petit dernier un peu hors-la-loi M. Chat ?

Et Krazy Kat, notre grandmère à tous ? Bien sûr que nous sommes tous cousins. Même si je n’ai pas beaucoup le sens de la famille.

7. Le papier, le journal, les médias, ce sont des univers du passé pour toi ? Tu avais occupé le quotidien « Libération » en 2004 mais d’une présence silencieuse. Et voilà que dans ce pop’lab tout à ta gloire, tu donnes de ta personne. Pourquoi ?

D’abord, je n’ai rien demandé. On m’honore, j’accepte, avec ma modestie naturelle. Mais d’ici peu, le papier sera le support le plus tendance, comme le vinyle et le mariage.

8. Comment expliques-tu que tu sois aussi à l’aise avec les nouvelles technologies ?

Frankly my deah, je ne me pose pas la question. Et puis nouvelles, nouvelles. . . Je trouve plutôt qu’elles ne vont pas assez vite pour moi.

9. Et d’ailleurs, pourquoi l’Internet est-il à ce point un repaire de chats (au point d’inventer la Journée sans chat sur l’Internet, le 9-9-9) ?

Internet reflète le monde, et il y a au monde deux choses inépuisables, et seulement deux : la musique et les chats. Vous ne supporteriez pas tous les jours vos films préférés, vos livres préférés, même pas vos amis préférés. Il faut des pauses. Mais l’émerveillement devant le chat, connu ou inconnu, et devant la musique, connue ou inconnue, ne connaît pas la pause, ni l’usure.

Bien sûr il y a des chats idiots, comme Garfield, et de la mauvaise musique, comme J.-M. Jarre – mais ceux-là s’excluent eux-mêmes de leur catégorie : ce sont des simulacres.

Chris, à qui il arrive de dire des choses sensées, parlait l’autre jour avec la correspondante d’un magazine américain. L’ingénue lui demandait : « Pourquoi cette préférence pour les chats ? Ce pourrait être un autre animal, le chien par exemple. . . » Réponse : « En somme, je fais un film sur une femme et vous me dites : pourquoi pas une vache ? »

10. Pourquoi venir faire un tour au Brésil, c’est la présence de Lula qui te motive ? Toi aussi, tu veux relancer l’amitié franco-brésilienne ?

Moi je n’ai rien à relancer. Ma relation avec le Brésil est ancienne, et multiple. Voilà deux exemples : Grâce à Chris, mon enfance a été bercée par la musique brésilienne. Je connais Chico Buarque par coeur. J’ai quelque part une photo dédicacée de Gilberto Gil. J’ai présenté, dans des ciné-clubs pour chats, « Os Fuzis » et « Antonio Das Mortes ». D’où l’hommage à Glauber ci-dessus. Mes amis brésiliens y ont vu une intention malicieuse : à Cannes, « Antonio Das Mortes » était en compétition avec « les Parapluies de Cherbourg ». Lien évident – sauf que moi, je l’avais complètement oublié.

11. Quelle relation entretiens-tu avec celui qui t’a mis sous la lumière, en photo puis en dessin ? Lequel des deux fait la leçon et indique la voie ? Qui de toi ou de lui est le plus aventureux des deux ?

C’est moi, bien sûr, mais je ne le dis pas trop. Il y a suffisamment de gens qui racontent leur vie à la télé. Disons que pour un humain, il est acceptable. On se complète. J’ai les idées, lui un peu de technique, on est comme Socrate et Platon. Cherchez qui est Socrate.

12. Tu te présentais il y a quelques années comme le « chat et l’assistant de Chris ». Est-ce que tu n’aurais pas un peu inversé les rôles, du fait d’une mégalomanie galopante ?

À votre avis, qui est la star ? le monstre ou le docteur Frankenstein ?

13. Tes pérégrinations dans Second Life ne t’auraient-elles pas un peu tourné la tête ?

On a facilement la tête qui tourne dans SL, mais je crois que c’est fait pour ça. Einstein : « La réalité aussi est une illusion, mais du genre qui dure. » Donc dès que ça dure un peu, on se demande de quel côté du miroir on est. Les gens que j’y rencontre sont un peu cinglés. à tous je dis : lisez « l’Invention de Morel » de Bioy Casares, et vous comprendrez où vous êtes. Certains l’ont fait, et m’ont remercié.

14. Qu’est-ce que tu aimes dans cet univers parallèle ?

Le monde de Bioy : un monde de fantômes, ces gens dont on ne sait rien, dont l’apparence est forcément un mensonge, mais où justement il est si facile de mentir que certaines âmes perverses, j’en suis sûr, éprouvent un malin plaisir à dire la vérité, juste pour ne pas être crues.

Maintenant, j’ai mon île dans SL. J’y donne des rendez-vous à des gens qui viennent de tous les coins du monde. Et c’est un fait qu’on y accomplit quelque chose d’absolument nouveau dans l’histoire de la communication. Ce n’est pas tout à fait la réalité, et pourtant. . . Le téléphone, les e-mails, même une vidéoconférence n’abolissent pas la distance, ils soulignent plutôt notre effort pour la surmonter. Dans SL, elle est abolie. On est là et on n’est pas là dans le même moment, comme mon autre cousin, le chat de Schrödinger. Jamais personne n’avait éprouvé ça.

Further Browsing:

“Vertov was my teacher”

Thanks to Eupalinos Ugajin (an SL cipher we have yet to decipher) of for publishing a saved chat of Chris Marker’s recent tour of Ouvroir in Second Life. The blog post is called “Chris Marker (Sergei Murasaki) présente son exposition dans l’Ouvroir” and provides a window onto the avatour recently hosted by the Harvard Film Archive. Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera: cut clip editMarker, in the guise of Sergei Murasaki – montage that quickens the heart – touches on Tarkovsky, the La Jetée bar in Tokyo, his Staring Back photos of the trees at the Place de la République, the origin of the Petite Planète book series, Simone Signoret and much more. There are some classic one-liners, such as: “Memory was given to man for lying;” “Memory is made to tell fairy tales;” “She came to my place and looked interested” (on LEILA); “As if the God HE believed in had driven me to leave a testimony” (on Tarkovsky); and of course the quote in the title of this post. When asked about Guillaume, he replies “that, my dear, would take a whole evening.” On the possibility of a Second Life film, which is a tempting one no doubt, he comments: “I have already lots of rushes on my trips in SL what I need is again an extra life to work on them.” A third life, as Marker / Murasaki calls it…

Since the blog post has disappeared, here is the record of another Second Life conversation by Lucien Bookmite on poptronics: L’Ouvroir, souvenirs d’une maison flottante, repères 182-69-39. [update 9/2016]

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.

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
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 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
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
holgers {at}


The Harvard Film Archive SECOND LIFE event with Chris Marker will take place on Saturday, May 16 at 7PM. Chris (through his avatar) will be leading a guided tour of his museum and answering Rapa Nui cats in Ouvroir - courtesy M. Bookmitequestions from myself and a colleague (or rather our avatars) and also taking some from the audience (in the form of another avatar waiting at the conclusion of the tour). The show will also include various video pieces and film clips—single-channel versions of The Hollow Men, Silent Movie and Pictures at an Exhibition plus a number of clips and perhaps other slide shows, all projected in the actual HFA rather than the virtual screening room (although we might see something there).

The HFA calendar will be updated with a detailed description of the show, as well as a mini-retrospective which will begin the weekend before.

Haden Guest, Director, Harvard Film Archive

Image courtesy Lucien Bookmite. Thanks to Tom Luddy for relaying this event information.