Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Mayday Flâneur


Thanks to Edo M for bringing these semi-precious gems of photographs by Chris Marker – who hit the streets on the occasion of the May 1st “celebration” in Paris – to our attention.

Et Chris Marker, le réalisateur du « Fond de l’air est rouge » et de « Chats perchés », ces deux films chargés d’histoire, de témoigner de cette obstination tranquille, de cette tension qui les tient, ces manifestants de l’an 09. Lui qui n’a cessé, depuis cet après-guerre pourtant salement noirci de luttes extrêmes jusqu’à ce début de millénaire désenchanté, à accompagner les mouvements sociaux, est à l’écoute—si tant est qu’un œil puisse être à l’écoute ! Observant comme nul autre la présence de jeunes, de femmes et de familles, hors des classiques bataillons syndicaux du 1er Mai, eux aussi mobilisés. Et si certains affichent un « Rêve générale », celui-ci, sous l’effet de la politique sarkozyste, vire au cauchemar généralisé…
annick rivoire, poptronics

Edo M also sent us something unbelievably special. Chasseur du maître-chasseur. Knowing the master’s predilection for staying behind the camera, it was a tough call, but here’s the link: Scroll down to the bottom to see the photo and video: Vidéo (un plan de 73 secondes) faite avec un appareil photographique par Jean-Louis Boissier.

Given the immediacy of the gaze throughout Marker’s photographic work, we are reminded of a passage of his in A Farewell to Movies:

Reactions of people photographed or filmed outdoors are rarely hostile, but almost never natural. Either they cringe, be it in a wink, or they hide their camera-consciousness by overreacting. My dream was to be able to catch them as I did animals, in pure naturalezza. A new toy allowed me to try it: the Casio wrist camera. You ostensibly check the time, and the person in front of you is caught. That small apparatus immediately triggered the title I would give to the experiment: What time is she? (I’ve got an unfashionable tendency to prefer women in my lens). Then I carried on with different devices, but I kept the title.

Marker’s referenced photo series, “Qu’elle heure est-elle?” – which obviously loses time in the translation – is currently showing at the Peter Blum Gallery in New York, May 16 2009—July 31 2009.

Source: Thanks for enabling object embedding!


  • On the reputation of invisibility… Marker carefully shot himself in Sans Soleil:

    The sequence happens in Japan; Marker films a bunch of TV sets which are connected in closed circuit with a video camera. The movement is very interesting, because it shows first that the video camera and the TV are connected, and at 90 degrees.

    Once that’s established, Marker does a panning shot, and films the TV for a few seconds. Given the position of the video camera, he appears with a 3/4 profile on the TV set, firmly lodged behind his 16mm camera, then vanishes.

    Until Sans Soleil would have been available on VHS, that was the kind of glimpse of Marker reserved to the projectionist.

  • I know exactly the shot you mention; I caught it on my 4th viewing of Sans Soleil on VHS in a small room in the Cornell library one fine day approximately 20 years ago. Comparing your image to the recent one, it appears that he has aged only very slightly. Perhaps at some point he discovered that old alchemical elixir known to the Comte de St. Germain, or then again perhaps it’s a side effect of time travel. Thanks for evoking this sublime/subliminal moment, and sorry your comment got caught for a couple days in the purgatory of the spam filter!

Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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