Marker on the Command Line

Chris Marker, identification d'un geek from provisoire on Vimeo.

After discovering this video on Vimeo, our attention was directed to a post on 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 poptronics:

11 thoughts on “Marker on the Command Line

  1. Daniel says:

    Gould – can you tell us more of this encounter? How did you know it was Koumiko?

    Would also be great to hear from anyone who worked with hyperstudio / apple II and knows about how Marker programmed Dialector. It’s a mystery worth exploring further.

  2. Gould says:

    Koumiko was at the screening. Too shy to talk, she barely introduced the movie with speaker. Koumiko donated her correspondence with Marker to film magazine Positif. maitre.pdf

    I will scan the letters this week end on my blog. Meanwhile you can still find scans of Marker’s photobook ‘Le Dépays’

  3. Didn’t get that 1st url – could you repost it? Thanks for the anecdote – much appreciated.
    (later) – I think it’s sommaire.pdf, so:

  4. Positif 632 | Octobre 2013
    Section Dossier Chris Marker, table of contents:

    Yannick Lemarié, “Au rythme d’une araignée”
    Youri Deschamps, “La Sixième Face du Pentagone”
    Mark Le Fanu, “Marker Avant la politique”
    Vincent Amiel, “Un champ d’images magnétique: À propos d’Immemory, et d’autres Images”
    Mathieu Capel, “L’érotique Japon”
    Chris Marker, “Lettres à Koumiko”
    Michel Ciment, “Une rencontre avec Koumiko”

  5. Gould says:

    I am looking for any specific material on Marker and Tokyo, can someone help me out? Thanks!

  6. Gould – that would be great re. the program. Please email me at info [at] and i can give you my address and also pay via paypal. Or you can use the contact form w/ an email i can reach you at…

  7. The Vimeo user provisoire has another DIALECTOR video called “dialector reloaded”:

  8. […] Vivent les rétrogeeks! Who knew that Marker’s resurrected early digital interactive creation DIALECTOR starred in a geekfest in Kansas City over the […]

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