Visiting Chris Marker in Second Life
Katie Rose Pipkin
He writes; “I’ve understood the visions. Suddenly you’re in the desert the way you are in the night; whatever is not desert no longer exists. You don’t want to believe the images that crop up.”
He writes; “And when all the celebrations are over it remains only to pick up all the ornaments — all the accessories of the celebration — and by burning them, make a celebration.”
He writes; “Video games are the first stage in a plan for machines to help the human race, the only plan that offers a future for intelligence. For the moment, the inseparable philosophy of our time is contained in the Pac-Man.”
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 an 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.”[…]
Ourvoir, literally translated, means sewing-room or work-room. Marker himself described his work as cobbling, and he as much more a cobbler than a film-maker or an artist. With this frame, it is easy to see all of his work this way; the still-photographs stitched into La Jetée, the silent film dubbed into San Soleil, the Youtube videos of animals that bleed into one another, and animal videos of a more conventional type. Of course, said aloud in the clumsy mouth of an English-speaker, Ourvoir also sounds almost identical to Au Revoir; goodbye, until we meet again.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…
He writes; “I remember that month of January in Tokyo, or rather I remember the images I filmed of the month of January in Tokyo. They have substituted themselves for my memory. They are my memory. I wonder how people remember things who don’t film, don’t photograph, don’t tape. How has mankind managed to remember? I know: it wrote the Bible. The new Bible will be an eternal magnetic tape of a time that will have to reread itself constantly just to know it existed.”