Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

La Chasse

L

Last Updated on June 8, 2020 by Сталкг

“La photo, c'est la chasse, c'est l'instinct de chasse sans l'envie de tuer. C'est la chasse des anges… On traque, on vise, on tire et — clac! au lieu d'un mort, on fait un éternel.”

“The photo is the hunt, it's the instinct of hunting without the desire to kill. It's the hunt of angels. You trail, you aim, you fire and — clic! — instead of a dead man, you make him everlasting.”
Chris Marker, Commentaires 2, 87

Chat Blanc - Chris Marker Postcard Series
Cat in a graveyard… From Chris Marker postcard series, Wexner Center for the Arts

The registration of images is also a hunt for the spectator. I've been tracking down the productions of Chris. Marker for quite a while now… I still remember the fascination with which I watched Sans Soleil about 30 years ago in the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco; this type of film-making didn't have a name for me yet, but produced a new type of thought pattern in my brain: creative cognitive dissonance, intellectual & emotional stimulation, appetite for more…

Whenever a Marker film was shown, I would make the pilgrimage. Later, in graduate school (the ultimate alibi), I set out more systematically to study the history of European documentary film, focusing on directors who were equally authors, having fulfilled the predictions of Alexandre Astruc formulating a new cinema, that of the “camera-stylo,” the camera-pen.

Those like myself, possessed (even in states of what approached near cultural starvation imposed by distribution practices) by the most intriguing zones of personal documentary film practice, have grown to perceive the contours of the essay film, and to investigate the conjunction of writing and filmmaking that a variety of craftspersons (Marker, Alexander Kluge, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Harun Farocki, Hartmut Bitomski, Johan van der Keuken, Robert Kramer, Jem Cohen and many others) pursued with interdisciplinary fervor.

Studying Marker leads one into time travel, such as the hero of La Jetée is subjected to. The “moment of happiness” was the viewing of the film, the time travel a search to understand it. For me, it was back to Montaigne and the traditions of rhetoric and the art of memory, and forward to the era of “future libraries” and online audio-visual archives.

Of course, it is nearly impossible to keep up with the intensity and productivity of Chris Marker. As we approach the year 4001, the year of perfect memory, we also approach the immensity of Marker's work, which incessantly looks toward the future for changes that history has left incomplete.

– Daniel L. Potter

Image: Chris Marker, “Roma, 1956” [from Staring Back, limited edition postcard set accompanying book, Wexner Center Store]

La Chasse

L

La photo, c'est la chasse, c'est l'instinct de chasse sans l'envie de tuer. C'est la chasse des anges… On traque, on vise, on tire et – clac! au lieu d'un mort, on fait un éternel.

The photo is the hunt, it's the instinct of hunting without the desire to kill. It's the hunt of angels… You trail, you aim, you fire and – clic! – instead of a dead man, you make him everlasting.

Die Fotografie ist Jagd, ist der Jagdinstinkt ohne die Lust am Töten. Die Jagd der Engel… Man schleicht sich an, man schießt – und klick! Anstelle eines Toten gibt es einen Verewigten.

– Chris Marker, “Si j'avais quatre dromadaires,” Commentaires 2, 87

2 comments

  • I love this definition of photography and often think about this concept while shooting … and I recently translated it into english (not knowing it had been done already) and came up with something slightly different and thought I’d share on this blog: “Photography is hunting, the hunting instinct without the wish to kill. It is angel’s hunting … Tracking, aiming, shooting and – snap ! instead of death you make eternity” …

  • Excellent, thanks. Once upon a time, CM corrected my rough translation and suggested the word “everlasting.” I like yours too!

Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory
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