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post #856 of 1310
Famous movies as Ottoman miniatures (I know, I know, traditional miniatures avoided accurate individual representation)

Clockwork Orange



Star Wars
post #857 of 1310
Pumpin' this guy's tires one last time:

post #858 of 1310
"Near Death Experience" by Bryan Lewis Saunders & Spastic Dementia

"SPECIAL INTERESTS #5" Interview by Aaron Vilk

You are perhaps a less typical subject for inclusion in Special Interests. Most of our interviews focus on sound artists, yet you have been gaining recognition for your unique and unsettling presentation of spoken word, aptly called “stand-up tragedy.” Explain the subject matter and aesthetics that characterize “stand-up tragedy” and how it stands apart from more mainstream spoken word.

Stand-up tragedy is the exact opposite of stand-up comedy. Instead of evoking laughter from strangers I make them cry, or make them feel like they’re about to die. The subject matter is dark and involves a wide variety of subjects from the vile side of American life. It’s purification through purging. It stands apart from mainstream spoken word because it’s not positive, not rap, not slam poetry, it has nothing to do with self-indulgence. What I do is attack my own experiences using video and words and sound all at once, in order to make showing pain in public socially acceptable. Too many people are alone and hiding their suffering, and when they finally come out and the pain comes out that’s when the really “bad stuff” happens. Believe me I know. Some say what I do is demonic because of the subject matter and the intensity, but the goal is to achieve catharsis and cleansing and to try and prevent more “bad stuff” from happening.

Many of your pieces focus on your hard upbringing and subsequent mental and legal problems, including living in violent unstable neighborhoods, being sent to prison and the resulting mental fallout of situations such as these. How true to life are your spoken word presentations? Do you feel that honesty adds a dimension of intensity to your stories, or do you feel that your stories would still resonate as much without the degree of honesty that they present?

Comparatively speaking my upbringing wasn’t that hard. I mean millions of people in the world have it much worse than I ever did. In Africa, they’ve got 9 year old kids armed with AKs whose parents gave them names like “Dead Body” when they were born. I had TV, Cap’n Crunch and Atari. Like I always say, “Look on the bright side - it could always be worse.”

Most all of my stories are true. There’s only one that I can think of that I totally made up about working in an animal testing facility and yet it’s still super intense because of the honesty of the feelings. Sometimes I’ll jam several stories together into one piece for emotional effect and some of the stories are colored with images from nightmares that I’ve had about the stories, so there’s no set formula for revealing the truth. Honesty plays an enormous part in the intensity, without the traumatic experiences I’ve had, the work would come off as forced and weak.

You utilize sound and visual art in your live performances, usually through the medium of video collages and industrial sound loops. Why do you feel this adds to the presentation of stand-up tragedy?

How closely do you feel that this draws you toward industrial and experimental performance artists?

I use the videos to show people what I’m talking about, and sometimes I put myself in the videos to show them that I know “first hand” what I’m talking about. Videos are evidence and I treat them as such. This makes me more readily believable and easier to identify with and sympathize with. No one will cry or feel like they’re going to die if they don’t trust you or believe you. It’s a persuasion technique, one of several common interests I share with the early industrial musicians.

The type of music I choose is on a case by case basis, be it harsh noise or dark ambient drone or what have you. It’s all about building up the desired emotional effect for that particular story or part of the show. The choice of music can be a psychological one too. For example the audio for the live performance of “Small Town Dark Secret” (a story about a morbidly obese girl sucking dicks to be accepted) is made from field recordings of humpback whales, but because of the subtle speed, reverb, and pitch changes it plants that ugliness of the subject deeper into the audience member’s consciousness without them even knowing it. It’s sick and manipulative but it works.

Your work has led you to collaborate with notable figures in the industrial scene, such as your release Daku recorded in collaboration with Z'ev. You also recently finished a US tour with harsh noise act Hostage Pageant. This begs the question, how close do you feel stand-up tragedy is to the medium of industrial music and power electronics? Do you feel that the emotional and artistic goals of your work and industrial sound artists are the same?

I feel a pretty strong bond. That said, one thing that separates me from some of the more harsh noise stuff is that I don’t assault the audience. I assault myself in front of them. Which is something that would be extremely difficult to pull off with music alone. And when you compound both assaults together like Hostage Pageant and I did, it makes the experience totally overwhelming. I can see this being directly related to the industrial use of shock tactics and their interest in cults and psychological persuasion.

Whereas the early Industrial musicians wanted people to think for themselves and question the world around them, I too want people to feel for themselves and do something about it because it’s our feelings that are being manipulated, exploited, preyed upon and even destroyed. Time and again studies have shown that it’s our feelings that guide our lives and make our choices for us not our thoughts. I’d say our goals are pretty much the same.

You've been doing daily self-portraits, many of which have worked themselves into your video collages. Please explain the reasons why you do these self-portraits and how they figure into your art and your personal life?

I’ve done at least one self-portrait every day for almost 16 years now, and will continue to do this until I die. Drawing is my life force and at times it has kept me alive, literally. For years drawing was all that I did and I never showed them I just accumulated them. Then after about 10 years when I started performing, that acute emotional focus imploded inside me and that is perhaps the single most reason why my performances are so explosive outwardly. I mean I spent an entire decade just putting all of my feelings into little 8”x10” pictures all day, and then once I opened up the result was incendiary. When I put the self-portraits into the performance itself it’s often a personal thing. I do it to harness and magnify the power of the act as if to say to myself, “I know who I am and I know what I’ve done WHAM!” They give me great power. And to me the body of work as a whole is like one grand inanimate totem for our narcissistic culture, even though 80% of them are self-deprecating. Which is probably why David Larcher titled it “The Endlessly Reconstructing Auto-Autopsy”.

Do you feel as though your environment has compelled you to express yourself artistically? Or, alternatively, do you feel that you would be a writer and performance artist either way, though it has merely influenced what you write about?

I would say other artists and their works have compelled me much more than any environment has, with the exception of prison perhaps. Without artists like Lydia Lunch, John Duncan, Steven Jesse Bernstein, Z’EV and so on I would still be the product of various environments, and not a producer risen from up out of them. I owe a great debt to those artists that have shown me that it is ok to let it out, be brutally honest, deny self-censorship, say “fuck you” to fear etc., things that I wouldn’t have just inherently known or have been able to do without them and their work.

What the prison environment brought to the mix was the great cathartic experiences I had from being able to just go nuclear ape shit in there. Due to the omnipresent threat of death and constant sense of uncertainty and dread it was socially acceptable to go off. I mean what can the guards do, you’re already locked up. And the relief and emotional release that that brought was invaluable and can’t be overstated enough. It’s crazy to think about now, but the times when I got locked down I was rehearsing and didn’t even know it. I often wish I had some of that on tape.

What releases (either recorded or printed) have you been working on as of late? What do you have planned in terms of upcoming releases and touring performances?

I have an LP coming out in the next few months titled, “Bed Bugs” on Private Leisure Industries about blood sucking insects, a teen cutter sex partner and the nightmares resulting from both.

Z’EV and I have a new album that’s looking for a home titled, “Me and My Shadow”.

Look for my book “Prison For Dummies” this year on Blossoming Noise.

And right at this very moment I’m working on a massive series of 20 albums titled, “Stream of Unconscious (narrative mode)”, where for the last 6 years I’ve been recording my dreams, nightmares and sleep talking on cassette and now I’m putting them together. The artists involved are incredible; Z’EV, Leif Elggren, Lydia Lunch, Kommisar Hjuler und Frau, Christopher Fleeger, Yoshihiro Kikuchi, Razen, Requiem, John Moloney, Matt Reis, Adam Bohman & Adrian Northover, Hopek Quirin, Love Execution Style, Offerings, Lee Gamble, Sinus Buds, Murmurists, undRess Béton, Anton Mobin, Thomas Fernier, Ad Beentjes and more. It’s going to be totally fucking insane!

As for touring this year I plan on doing a west coast tour here in the States to promote my album “Near Death Experience” on Erratum. (If a reader is unfamiliar with what I do? that LP is a great place to start, the title says it all.) And I’m also looking into a possible Spring tour in Europe with Joachim Montessuis, Jorg Piringer, and Julien Ottavi.

Is there anything you'd like to add or anything you'd like to tell our readers?

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share what I do! It feels good to be included here. Oh, and if you're online sometime and come across my series of self-portraits under the influence of different drugs, know that I don't "party" I just experiment, and I'm willing to trade art for drugs that I haven't drawn myself on yet. But keep the jenkem to yourselves!

also check out self portraits

what's with the disclaimer posting photos now re not posting copyrighted photos...isn't most of the stuff in this thread copyrighted??? anyway here's a few examples, i'll take em down if mods want

form Anxiety

from Drugs
After experiencing drastic changes in my environment, I looked for other experiences that might profoundly affect my perception of the self. So I devised another experiment where everyday I took a different drug and drew myself under the influence. Within weeks I became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage. I am still conducting this experiment but over greater lapses of time. I only take drugs that are given to me.
Morphine IV (doseage unknown)

from Love

Edited by BreezyBirch - 7/27/12 at 11:54pm
post #859 of 1310

This is old hat to more artistically aware people than I but this 1970's documentary, "Ways of Seeing", is quite interesting. It looks critically at history of Western oil painting from the Renaissance to the 19th century and it's cultural role, but one definitely gets a flavour for how the ideas could be more generally applied.


First part of the first episode:




Playlist for the whole thing here

post #860 of 1310
Thread Starter 
Color blocking

Originally Posted by source View Post

14th of October, 2010 at 12.25pm in Ajka, Veszprém county, Hungary: around a million cubic metres of toxic waste were released after the burst of the retaining wall in one of the reservoirs used for the accumulation of MAL aluminium company rubbish. The spilling reached two meters high and started a destructive race trying to release its energy, flooding Devecser and Kolontár villages. Ten human casualties were counted and the material damages were imposible to measure, including the destruction or irreparable deterioration of a big ammount of houses, the dissapearing of infrastructures and the poisoning of dozens of fields. The accident was fast considered the biggest catastrophe of Hungarian history.

This photos have been taken six months after the accident when the silence takes the place of the headlines and just The Line is left.

post #861 of 1310
the trees are so cool
post #862 of 1310
Originally Posted by sipang View Post

Ten human casualties were counted and the material damages were imposible to measure, including the destruction or irreparable deterioration of a big ammount of houses, the dissapearing of infrastructures and the poisoning of dozens of fields. The accident was fast considered the biggest catastrophe of Hungarian history.








post #863 of 1310
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I just lazily copy/pasted, I'm gonna guess they meant environmental catastrophe.
post #864 of 1310
Thread Starter 

Goodbye Chris Marker


Originally Posted by source View Post

There are great filmmakers and then there are filmmakers whose work is so singular that it changes the way we look at the medium. French New Wave semi-experimental director Chris Marker falls into the latter category. He died yesterday at the age of 91.

Associated with a Left Bank Cinema movement that included more intellectual and experimental filmmakers like Alain Resnais and Agnès Varda—as opposed to the more narrative-obsessed Right Bank of François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and others—Marker was a master of the cinematic essay, fusing fiction, documentary, and experimental techniques in making associations and getting across philosophical and political ideas. Employing a range of montage techniques, Marker made films that engaged in the culture, but were often mysterious and poetic and playful; it’s a little deceptive to call him an “essayist,” because the word implies someone whose work is more straightforward or even a little dry. Marker was an artist first—and operated in other disciplines, too, like photography and multimedia exhibition (and even CD-ROM, in the case of Immemory)—and the pleasure of watching his films comes from intuiting your way through them, rather than merely swallowing artless chunks of argument and information.

Marker’s most famous film is probably 1963’s Le Jetée, a 30-minute post-apocalyptic science-fiction short that provided the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (and Mamoru Oshii's 1987 The Red Spectacles). Le Jetée unfolds entirely through an assemblage of gorgeous black-and-white stills, considering a future Paris eradicated by nuclear war. The film opens in the city post-World War III, where radiation levels have left the few survivors to scurry under the surface. A man is chosen to embark on an experimental time-travel mission to go back and alter the course of history, but the temporal folds prove to be tricky. Though not a conventional storyteller by nature, Marker’s still-photo conceit nonetheless demands an economy and clarity of style that the film masters. It’s a lot of movie in a little time.

Marker’s interest in the nature of memory plays a part in Le Jetée, but it’s the central theme of his 1983 classic Sans Soleil, an expansive travelogue that’s built on free associations and observations. (Both Le Jetée and Sans Soleil are available on a single Criterion Blu-ray set.) Held together by narration from an unknown female, who reads letters written by a world traveler, Sans Soleil interweaves personal history with an often politically charged global perspective. With few degrees of separation, the film leaps from a minor cultural observation like mating habits on the Bijagós Islands to thoughts on video games and the Khmer Rouge.

Other Marker essentials—like 1977’s A Grin Without A Cat, his 240-minute magnum opus about French leftism and the rise of the socialist movement in Latin America, and its 2004 semi-sequel The Case Of The Grinning Cat—revealed his gifts as a bold political thinker and cinematic conversationalist. But he also specialized in unique profiles of major filmmakers and public figures, including Fidel Castro (1961’s Cuba Sí), and the master directors Andrei Tarkovsky (1999’s One Day In The Life Of Andrei Arsenevich) and Akira Kurosawa (1995’s AK, which caught him shooting his epic Ran). Throughout the ‘90s, Marker shifted into multimedia installations and cutting-edge technological experiments, keeping up the prolific pace and restless innovation that marked a half-century of artistry.

As mysterious as his work often was, Marker proved even more elusive for biographers. He was born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve, but his place of birth is up for dispute, with some (including Marker) claiming that he comes from Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and others more plausibly tracing his origins to Belleville, Paris. He gave few interviews and loved cats. He will be missed.


Marker on the set of Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice (when asked for a picture of himself Marker would send one of a cat)

Born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve in 1921, Marker (one of his many pseudonyms) spent his childhood, depending on which story you believe, in Cuba, Mongolia or l’Ile aux Moines in the Morbihan. He attended the lycée Pasteur in Paris and took a degree in philosophy from the Sorbonne. At 24 he joined the Resistance with the Communist Francs-Tireurs, who sent him to the US to train as a parachutist. In 1947, he joined the journal Esprit, where he met Resnais and André Bazin. With Alain Resnais, he made Les Statues meurent aussi/ Statues Also Die (When men die, they enter into history. When statues die, they enter into art. This botany of death is what we call culture.), an indictment of French colonialism, and the ground-breaking Nuit et brouillard/ Night anf Fog (1955).

It was Bazin who credited Marker with the invention of the essay-film, in which, he suggested, meanings and associations are produced not so much in the way that shots are stitched together as through the relationship between commentary and image.

In all, Marker has made more than forty films and published seven books of photographs; in the 1990s, he released a CD-Rom and curated four multimedia installations for art galleries, the most recent at MoMA. Marker is identified with no particular group or movement; his work is at once lyrical, political and satirical. But his primary concern has been to document the century: he is preoccupied with the images that come to define our collective and personal memories.

The teasing, elliptical nature of Marker's work was reflected in the man himself. He refused to give interviews, hated being photographed and claimed to have born in Mongolia despite contradictory sources that suggested he was a native of Paris. All of which, wrote the critic David Thomson, fostered the notion of Marker as "some mysterious if ideal figure, a hope or a dream more than an actual person". He was, Thomson added, "the essential ghost".

If you want more, here's an essay by Catherine Lupton that accompanies the Criterion edtion of La Jetée/Sans Soleil
Warning (Click to show)
Originally Posted by source View Post

Chris Marker: Memory’s Apostle
By Catherine Lupton

La Jetée (1963) and Sans Soleil (1983), made a tidy twenty years apart, are the twin peaks of Chris Marker’s creative achievements and his best-loved and most widely seen films. But who is Chris Marker? Writer, photographer, editor, filmmaker, videographer, and digital multimedia artist, Marker was until recently one of cinema’s better-kept secrets, famously reclusive and shrouded in protective layers of legend and pseudonym. The whisper of his adopted name was for those in the know a password to another country: an alter ego of the everyday modern world, transfigured by the insight of a wise, funny, and profoundly humane intelligence, populated with owls, cats, and mysteriously beautiful women, a place where, as we learn in Sans Soleil, “every memory can create its own legend.” Today, thanks to a growing body of exhibitions, film festival retrospectives, and publications, the secret is becoming more extensively known and shared, and Marker is garnering recognition as one of the most significant and seminal figures of contemporary visual culture. Yet this octogenarian polymath remains a tantalizingly impenetrable enigma. Still active, and utterly uninterested in resting publicly on the laurels of his long and remarkably varied creative life, Marker retains an allure that is amplified by the fact that only a handful of his works are widely circulated and seen, especially outside his native France.

When Marker came to make La Jetée, in 1962, he was already in the process of confounding the expectations set up by his early career. Emerging first as a critic, poet, and novelist in the ferment of postwar Paris, Marker moved into photography and filmmaking in the 1950s, supported by a modest but effective state funding structure for short-film production that also assisted his close friends and fellow filmmakers Alain Resnais and Agnès Varda. By the early 1960s, Marker had gained a reputation as the director of a handful of idiosyncratic personal travel documentaries: A Sunday in Peking (1956), Letter from Siberia (1958), Description of a Struggle (1960, about Israel), and Cuba sí! (1961). Through these films, Marker honed a distinctive style of inquisitive, offbeat cultural reportage, which adopted an engagingly intimate tone of address and cunningly played on the separation of images from voice-over commentary to question the ways in which different nations and cultures are represented—both for themselves and to others. One famous sequence in Letter from Siberia shows footage of a Yakutsk town bus, road menders, and a squinting passerby three times, with three different commentaries: a pro-Soviet eulogy showcasing progress and efficiency, an anti-Soviet critique emphasizing backwardness and discomfort, and an “objective” sketch of Marker’s own impressions—which, he is quick to point out in the film, has no more purchase on the truth of Siberia than either of the others. As critic André Bazin noted when he reviewed the film in Cahiers du cinéma, the main force at work in Letter from Siberia was a penetrating intelligence, one that wore its erudition gracefully and was unafraid to upset ideological sacred cows. Bazin’s assessment served to cement Marker’s association with that singular branch of documentary called the essay film, which might be characterized as setting out to depict the process of thinking around a given subject, with all its attendant messiness, hesitations, and sudden insights intact.

In the spring of 1962, Marker began work on a documentary project with a radically different scope and approach from his travelogues: an expansive, interview-based examination of contemporary French society in the immediate aftermath of the Algerian War, which was released a year later as Le joli mai. Together with Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin’s Chronicle of a Summer (1960), Le joli mai remains one of the key works of French cinema verité, although Marker was quick to rephrase as “ciné, ma vérité” (cinema, my truth) Rouch and Morin’s quasi-scientific-sounding translation of Dziga Vertov’s kino-pravda, signaling that he had no intention of abandoning personal expression as a means of engaging with the world. Marker’s drily nonconfrontational interview style allowed his subjects plenty of space to express their views, but he then freely used editing to let his own reactions—sympathy, outrage, boredom (cue yawning cats)—show through. From this point on, the interview would remain a central feature of Marker’s filmmaking, a testament to his compassionate, if never uncritical, fascination with other human lives, and a ready complement to the distinctive, private sensibility expressed through his commentaries.

During time out from shooting Le joli mai, Marker began to take photographs for a story that would eventually become La Jetée, his most definitive foray onto the terrain of narrative fiction film and one of cinema’s most elegant and remarkable meditations on its own nature as a medium, despite (or rather because of) its being composed almost entirely of still photographs. Inimitable and provocatively influential—Terry Gilliam’s 1995 feature film 12 Monkeys being the best-known homage—La Jetée is simply unlike any other film in the history of cinema. It is certainly not the only film to be composed out of still images, but its triumph is to harness them, using the classic grammar of the narrative fiction film, to the ultimate spare, stripped-down storyline (a mere twenty-seven minutes in length): a postapocalyptic science-fiction tale of tragic heroism and lost love, which turns on the fatal attraction of images and the price paid for that desire. The use of still photographs distills the essence of cinema’s appeal and its impossibility: the desire to fix that which is forever in motion, the desire to possess the presence of that which is forever absent, the willful suspension of disbelief that will create the illusion of reality from a projected stream of immobile representations. La Jetée can be amply enjoyed along these lines, as a timeless reflection on cinema as a time machine, but it is also very much the product of its own historical moment and the circumstances of its making. It is as if Marker, absorbed in the contemporary attitudes and concerns expressed by the interviewees of Le joli mai, had pulled them inside out and across the border into science fiction, where the unsayable could be given a voice. The dystopian future imagined in La Jetée mirrors the murky global fears of the cold war and the Cuban Missile Crisis (which unfolded as Marker was working to complete the film), not to mention the dirty domestic secrets of a France that had used torture during the Algerian War and then ruthlessly censored public knowledge of the fact, raising the specter of national complicity with the Nazi occupation during World War II (La Jetée’s prison-camp experimenters whisper portentously in German). It seems no coincidence that the action of the film takes place underground, location par excellence of the unconscious and the repressed.

Then, in 1967, with his leading involvement in the collective Vietnam War protest film Far from Vietnam, Marker began a decade of working closely, and often anonymously, with the French left-wing militant film collectives SLON and ISKRA, producing counterinformation newsreels and campaigning films on political struggles in France, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, and quietly lending a hand to fellow committed filmmakers like Patricio Guzmán, whose landmark film on the downfall of the Allende government, The Battle of Chile (1975), reputedly owed to Marker an indispensable gift of film stock. At the end of this period, Marker produced his own magisterial assessment of the rise and fall of the militant left, the epic A Grin Without a Cat (1977), which showcased his extraordinary gift for montage to excavate the complexities of a radical history that, by the late 1970s, was fast succumbing to the whitewash of right-wing historical revisionism.

Following this immersion in collectivist political cinema, the release of Sans Soleil, in 1983, was greeted as Marker’s triumphant return to personal filmmaking. Sans Soleil is Marker’s tour de force as a cinematic essayist, all playful musings and meandering digressions, in which passing observations on such apparently banal subjects as pet cats and video games yield profound insights into the big issues of twentieth-century civilization: history, memory, political power, the function of representation, ritual and time. The premise of Sans Soleil is a woman reading out letters from a globe-trotting cameraman, who we learn in the closing credits is named Sandor Krasna. Krasna is drawn especially to Japan and the former Portuguese West African colonies of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau; he also visits Iceland, Île-de-France, and San Francisco, being obsessed with Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. We must lean on these bare coordinates all we can, since nothing can fully prepare the novice viewer for the exhilarating kaleidoscope of ideas, associations, and fleetingly gorgeous visions that Sans Soleil offers. Like a piece of music, it does demand (and generously repay) repeat viewings. Through Krasna—whose presence is itself filtered through the sensibility of the woman who reads, and occasionally comments upon, his letters—Marker fuses the urbane wit of his earliest travel films to the persona of the political militant, now somewhat disabused by the collapse of the struggles he has supported, but not so shortsighted as to deny the value of those who, “like Che Guevara, tremble with indignation every time an injustice is committed.”

If, in these respects, Sans Soleil looks back to Marker’s earlier incarnations, it also heralds his growing interest in computers and digital multimedia, which would become an important platform for his work during the eighties and nineties, resulting in the multimedia gallery installations Zapping Zone (1990), Silent Movie (1996), and Owls at Noon (2005), the interactive CD-ROM Immemory (1998), and the pivotal role played by the Apple IIGS computer in both the narrative and the creation of his 1996 feature film Level Five. In Sans Soleil, the avatar of this fascination with digital imagery is Krasna’s Japanese friend Hayao Yamaneko, who designs video games and, as a sideline, obsessively feeds film images into a synthesizer, so that they are transformed into flat, shifting fields of vivid, pixelated color.

In treating images this way, Yamaneko insists that they are literally marked with traces of the inexorable passage of time, and that memory continually fabricates new versions of past events to suit the immediate interests of the present. This holds a key to this intricately worked film’s central themes and obsessions. Marker has always been concerned in his work with probing what Krasna calls “the function of remembering,” both how memory serves to constitute an individual’s sense of self and the public or collective process of forging an official version of history. Marker’s films abound with incisive interrogations of the multitude of experiences that get repressed or denied in the interest of manufacturing history and national identity, and in Sans Soleil we find the synthesized images used to show precisely aspects of Japanese culture that don’t officially exist: reasonable, anti-Imperial kamikaze pilots and the burakumin underclass, a vestige of the medieval caste system.

What makes the treatment of memory in Sans Soleil so compelling, though, is that it is never merely the dry object of the essayist’s inquiry but the very impassioned dynamo of the film’s structure and unfolding. The film flits from one idea or visual association to another, and in it we can trace the habits of our own inner processes of recollection, which condense, displace, plunge us abruptly into forgotten recesses of our past. The fugitive allure of Sans Soleil’s images owes much to the feeling that they are something more than simply records of places and events in the world—they are things that have been cherished and remembered by somebody, because they have momentarily quickened the heart, like the list in The Pillow Book, a collection of writings by the tenth-century noblewoman Sei Shõnagon, that Krasna takes to his own heart while filming. Marker is alert to memory’s self-serving distortions, but even more so to our deep human need for memory as a form of protection, a shield that keeps at bay the losses imposed by time, forgetting, and forced obliteration, even as our emotional investment in a memory exists in a direct ratio to whatever absence brought it into being: “Memory is not the opposite of forgetting but its lining.” This is why Krasna cannot find a place for the delicately flickering image of three Icelandic children that opens Sans Soleil until their hometown is destroyed by a volcano. The poignancy of the image only stands out against the blackness, the annihilation, the absence of the sun. It is also why, deep in the labyrinthine passages of Sans Soleil, La Jetée is enfolded as the memory of another film, replaying its own allusion to Hitchcock’s Vertigo in a slice of sequoia trunk, where a hand points to a place outside conventional time. For La Jetée is the story of a man’s memory of a woman’s face, which he held on to in the teeth of war and destruction, but which led him back ultimately to a more fearfully intimate moment of nothingness. And for Marker and Krasna, Hitchcock’s once maligned masterpiece is the ultimate story of “impossible memory”: Scottie’s doomed drive to re-create through Judy his lost love, Madeleine, because his precious memory was already that which was gone forever.

At the time he made Le joli mai, Marker was already wondering what that film would mean to people in years to come—a feeling that doubtless inspired the specter in La Jetée of contemporary Paris transformed into a distant, prewar memory of the future. It is tempting, and not unjustified, to speculate that one reason for Marker’s growing visibility and popularity is that, as a culture, we have now finally caught up with works that once seemed like dispatches from another planet (recalling that Marker was long quite seriously rumored to be a denizen of such). The subjective documentary viewpoint, which Marker did so much to pioneer, is now the norm rather than the outrageous exception: witness Agnès Varda’s The Gleaners and I (2000), Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation (2003), or Gary Tarn’s Marker-inspired Black Sun (2005), among others too numerous to name. Marker’s early and enthusiastic embrace of electronic communications and new media technologies as a vehicle for creative expression now seems (at least from some angles) a far more prescient manifesto for the future of filmmaking than anything from the doom-mongers who think cinema will be seen off by the digital revolution. And Marker’s preoccupation with the lures and conundrums of memory has gone mainstream, from Total Recall (1990) to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). At the same time, we bind Marker to the preoccupations of the present at our own risk. The Cat Who Walks by Himself, he has always moved one step ahead by elegantly flouting expectations, and it would be rash to believe that he has nothing left to unveil to us of our deepest cultural memories, disavowals, and desires.


Originally Posted by source View Post

Notes On Filmmaking
by Chris Marker

Working on a shoestring, which in my case is more often a matter of circumstance than of choice, never appeared to me as a cornerstone for aesthetics, and Dogme-type stuff just bores me. So it's rather in order to bring some comfort to young filmmakers in need that I mention these few technical details: The material for La Jetee was created with a Pentax 24x36, and the only "cinema" part (the blinking of the eyes) with an Arriflex 35mm film camera, borrowed for one hour. Sans Soleil was entirely shot with a 16mm Beaulieu silent film camera (not one sync take within the whole film), with 100-foot reels – 2'44" autonomy! –and a small cassette recorder (not even a Walkman; they didn't exist yet). The only "sophisticated" device – given the time – was the spectre image synthesizer, also borrowed for a few days. This is to say that the basic tools for these two films were literally available to anyone. No silly boasting here, just the conviction that today, with the advent of computer and small DV cameras (unintentional homage to Dziga Vertov), would-be directors need no longer submit their fate to the unpredictability of producers or the arthritis of televisions, and that by following their whims or passions, they perhaps see on day their tinkering elevated to DVD status by honorable men.

Edited by sipang - 7/30/12 at 11:26am
post #865 of 1310
Repost from a thread I started in the CE:

Chris Marker primer:
Two relatively well-known and accessible films:
Analysis of his output:
La Jetée (a filmed photo-roman back to book form as a ciné-roman):
Photos by Marker:

His youtube account, he embraced the medium and made some original shorts that you can see here:
post #866 of 1310

post #867 of 1310
Thread Starter 
Here's La Jetée with English subtitles for those who haven't seen it. It's only 26min long, do yourself a favor and watch it now.

(or w/ bigger subtitles, in two parts 1 + 2)


Originally Posted by source View Post

La Jetée inspired a video by David Bowie and a film by Terry Gilliam. And there's also a bar called "La Jetée," in Japan. How do you feel about this cult? Does Terry Gilliam's imagination intersect with yours?

Terry's imagination is rich enough that there's no need to play with comparisons. Certainly, for me 12 Monkeys is a magnificent film (there are people who think they are flattering me by saying otherwise, that La Jetée is much better - the world is a strange place). It's just one of the happy signs, like Bowie's video, like the bar in Shinjuku (Hello, Tomoyo! To know that for almost 40 years, a group of Japanese are getting slightly drunk beneath my images every night - that's worth more to me than any number of Oscars!), that have accompanied the strange destiny of this particular film. It was made like a piece of automatic writing. I was filming Le Joli mai, completely immersed in the reality of Paris 1962, and the euphoric discovery of "direct cinema" (you will never make me say "cinema verité") and on the crew's day off, I photographed a story I didn't completely understand. It was in the editing that the pieces of the puzzle came together, and it wasn't me who designed the puzzle. I'd have a hard time taking credit for it. It just happened, that's all.

Might as well post this

Originally Posted by The Criterion Collection 
La Jetée: Unchained Melody
By Jonathan Romney

However you define Chris Marker's 1963 short La Jetée—philosophical fiction, genre exercise, treatise on cinematic time—one fact is unavoidable: it resembles few other films. In fact, La Jetée does not define itself as a film at all—its credits identify it as “un photo-roman.” This means literally a “photo-novel,” but usually denotes those photographed comic strips popular in magazines of the 1950s and 1960s, especially in Europe. The label “photo-roman” suggests that what we are watching ought to be a static object—a book, rather than a film (when La Jetée was issued in book form, by Zone Books in 1992, it bore a new subtitle proclaiming its filmic origin: “ciné-roman”). Taking the form of apocalyptic science fiction typical of the cold war era, La Jetée is a story told in black-and-white stills, accompanied by music, sound effects, and voice-over narration. It contains only one brief shot of filmed motion, and one moment in which the camera appears to move, pulling back from the opening still of the pier or observation deck at Paris Orly Airport (the jetée itself).

La Jetée's narrative—in which an unnamed hero, living in a Parisian postwar radioactive wasteland, is sent back in time by scientists to find sustenance or a source of energy—is a Möbius strip, returning paradoxically to its point of origin to swallow its own tail and engender itself once more. Because these missions follow the route of inner space, via the travelers’ memories, “the man whose story we are telling” is considered an especially apt subject: he is fixated on a single memory. As a child, he witnessed an unexplained scene of violence at Orly Airport, involving a man falling and the shocked reaction of a beautiful woman.

The film’s parable-like concision derives not only from the elegantly lucid text but also from the evocative precision of the images, and from the spareness of the montage. La Jetée feels not only like a photo-roman but also like a photographed storyboard for a science-fiction film yet to be made (Terry Gilliam used La Jetée as inspiration for just such a film in 1995, the rather more frenetic 12 Monkeys). The peculiar, indeed exceptional, formal qualities of La Jetée lead viewers, consciously or otherwise, to reappraise their conceptions of the nature of cinema and its relation to time and to motion. We are routinely accustomed to thinking that film simply captures motion, photographing the moving object at the rate of twenty-four frames a second. The flow of frames is reassembled by the mind—thanks to the perceptual process of “persistence of vision”—into the illusion (which we automatically tend to perceive, rather, as a copy) of autonomous motion. However, by breaking his narrative down into a series of discontinuous stills, each held at some length, Marker reminds us that the filmic illusion of motion is always composed of a series of still images—as it were, the single atoms of cinematic flow. It is the often infinitesimal differences between these still images that make the picture appear to move.

However, as each one of La Jetée’s static images lasts considerably longer than 1/24 of a second, on celluloid each still in La Jetée actually comprises dozens of replicas of itself. In presenting us with a series of frozen images, Marker dramatizes a breakdown of time’s invisible flow into a succession of visible moments that might be considered the individual atoms of time, and of our experience of time. Indeed, when the film’s hero journeys into the distant future, that new world is represented as a series of microscope images.

Time moves differently in this extraordinary essay on cinematic tense, and from the start, our perceptions of past, present, and future undergo strange mutations. The tense of the narrative shifts between past and present, the latter used predominantly to narrate the hero’s return to a lost past. That past is the Paris of the present in which the film was shot; the combination of photographs and commentary contrive to make the city in 1962 appear radically unfamiliar. The opening shots of Orly and its stark linear architecture offer a coldly futuristic panorama, as air travel still had a cachet of hypermodernity in the early sixties. Yet over these tableaux, the narrative describes a memory of the distant past.

In later images of 1962 Paris, futurity is replaced by a sense of the quotidian, which nevertheless is granted fantastic dimensions by the matter-of-fact commentary: in a department store, the hero is stunned by this new world and its “fabulous materials: glass, plastic, terry cloth.” But 1960s Paris is also infused by antiquity: images of shattered classical statues (a figure of the film’s own fragmentation and the hero’s state of self) suggest a culture that has preserved its past, as the postapocalyptic world has failed to do, but that is haunted, in thrall to its own ghosts. In one sequence, the man and woman examine a section of sequoia tree, an allusion to Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), in which Madeleine (Kim Novak), who identifies herself with a long-dead woman named Carlotta Valdez, shows Scotty (James Stewart) rings on the sequoia trunk, marking the points in time at which Carlotta was born and died. In La Jetée, the terms of reference are reversed: here it is the man from the future who shows the woman a point outside the circumference of the trunk, marking a moment yet to come at which he will one day exist. But paradoxically, this allusion to the future is already itself a repetition of the past, and a fictional past at that: in repeating Novak’s pointing gesture, which Marker’s still closely echoes, the man from the future is unwittingly reenacting a moment in a film from the past (of the man’s distant past, but the recent past from Marker’s point of view, as Vertigo was made only five years before La Jetée). The reenactment is made explicit in La Jetée’s narration: Looking at the sequoia, the woman “pronounces an English name he doesn’t understand”—the name is surely Hitchcock. (Significantly, in his 1983 essay film Sans Soleil, Marker alludes to both Vertigo and La Jetée as reference points for his exploration of time, memory, and the moving image.)

In a long sequence of La Jetée, the couple visits a museum of natural history in which animals are preserved in timeless suspension, stuffed and static. Yet in Marker’s still shots, there is no visible distinction between the beasts and the people watching them. The happy couple interacts with zebras and tapirs that seem to regard them curiously; the images are full of life, but in themselves they offer no way of knowing whether the animals have miraculously come alive or whether the humans, rather, are frozen like them. These are arguably the most self-reflexive shots in La Jetée, prompting us to question whether these still images tend to evoke animation in dead beings or to reduce living creatures to deathly stasis. Yet while the animals seem morbidly frozen in a mausoleum masquerading as a zoo, the humans’ visible joy suggests a utopian condition of eternal euphoria—the couple appears to inhabit a sort of pure present, a suspended state beyond time. In the department store, “they are without memories, without plans. Time builds itself painfully around them. The only landmarks are the flavor of the moment they are living and the markings on the walls.”

This sounds at once like an ideal romantic state and a deathly condition, beyond desire or even consciousness. However, Jean Ravel’s subtly rhythmic editing restores a fluid energy to the film’s succession of frozen moments. At one point, we see the woman in bed asleep, as a series of stills gently and sensuously shift into each other, evoking her tentative stirring. Suddenly, in La Jetée’s single moment of animation, she opens her eyes to look directly at the camera: this becomes the true center of the film, momentarily displacing the fetishistically fixed moment of origin on the pier. But it is at the airport that stasis finally consumes the film. Having saved his world, the man returns to Orly and the woman waiting for him on the pier. As he dashes toward his love, a series of shots edited in quick succession give his desperate run the appearance of painfully, suspensefully slowed-down motion. But one of his captors is also there and shoots him: as the man falls, the voice-over explains that the scene that has always haunted him was the moment of his own death. As he dies, he freezes in midair, a human statue as lifeless as the classical relics seen earlier.

Marker shot La Jetée during gaps in the shooting of Le joli mai (1963), an anatomy of May ’62 in Paris. In a 2003 interview, he said of La Jetée, “It was made like a piece of automatic writing . . . I photographed a story I didn’t completely understand. It was in the editing that the pieces of the puzzle came together, and it wasn’t me who designed the puzzle.” This could be taken as a tribute to editor Jean Ravel, but also as a testament to the unconscious forces that appear to drive the story: La Jetée can certainly be read as an allegory of psychoanalysis, in which a supine subject searches in his unconscious for the origins of his trauma.

La Jetée is the only fiction proper in Marker’s oeuvre, although he has used the stills format in other films, notably If I Had Four Dromedaries (1966). La Jetée nonetheless encapsulates many of his enduring themes: its hero could be a version of Marker, the compulsive traveler who has spent his life venturing into the world and retrieving fragments of experience to be reassembled into a newly complex picture of his age. The film also displays Marker’s fascination for technology as a means of reading experience: in recent years, he has become a passionate explorer of digital and interactive media, in installations, CD-ROMs, and his video essay Level Five (1996). La Jetée also illustrates a proposition that Marker makes in his 1983 travelogue-essay Sans Soleil: “The great question of the twentieth [century] was the coexistence of different concepts of time.”
post #868 of 1310
post #869 of 1310

Everyone needs to buy a Playstation, now.




One of the chief creative voices at thatgamecompany, Jenova Chen, once described his earlier game, Flower, in an intriguing way. He said it was to big disc-based games what poems are to novels. I can find no better description to apply to his follow-up, except to say that if Flower was an abstract haiku about the fragility of nature, Journey is a narrative ballad defined by discrete images and places. Journey offers players a brief but memorable glimpse into another world, and through the confluence of music, images, and play, a quiet meditation on solitude and the interconnection of people.

As you might expect, a lot of what makes a game called Journey so engaging is the slow unraveling of mystery as you learn more about where you are and what you’re doing. To that end, I’d be spoiling things to describe too much. It’s enough to say that you play an unnamed red-cloaked figure who finds him or herself in a vast desert as the game begins. The only landmark in sight is a distant glowing mountain peak that serves as your destination. Along the way, you’ll uncover secrets and slowly increase your ability to navigate freely through semi-permanent pick-ups in the world. Simplistic puzzles bar forward progress, mostly built around learning the properties of the world and the creatures that live within it. Most of the time, you’ll be pushing forward across the sands, or flitting over it like a leaf in flight as your character grows more agile.

As the journey unfolds, a cryptic tale reveals both a backstory to the world and its many ruins, and some semblance of who you are and why you’re traveling to the mountain. Without words or text, this narrative remains up for interpretation through its conclusion and is likely to frustrate those looking for more concrete answers. The real story is about the places you visit as you travel and the sense of isolation the game evokes as you go.

Journey’s most innovative feature is the way it lifts that sense of loneliness through cooperative play. If you play online as you travel and come to a spot where another player is also exploring, you can interact with them. Join them as they continue, or split off and leave them behind. Take them to hidden secrets you have found, or solve a puzzle together. There’s even a simple form of communication – a sort of chirping call that can be used to “speak” back and forth. When playing together, you’ll quickly notice the way you can help to recharge each other’s energy, and by working together you’ll have an easier time moving through the world and its challenges. It’s not a subtle metaphor, but it is a powerful one.

I recommend playing the game both ways. That is, consider unplugging your online connection and playing by yourself at some point, and then plug in and find someone in the game world to join. It’s surprising how different the game feels based on your choice.

Journey is a visual stunner thanks to some remarkable sand movement technology and excellent animation work, both on the main character and the strange creatures encountered along the way. For a game all about dry, harsh deserts, the way things move in the world make everything feel much more like a vast ocean. The graphical beauty is accompanied by an equally breathtaking musical score, which responds to character actions and changes in location with ease.

If you judge a game solely by its complex battle systems, intricate puzzles, or branching upgrade systems, Journey is likely a disappointment. If you’re open to that often nebulous realm of how a game might elicit emotion and the artistic potential of interactive narrative, Journey is an absolute must-play. During the course of covering the game, I completed it at least three times, with one entire playthrough being with a partner. Each time, without fail, individual moments (particularly the final level) managed to give me goosebumps, and those moments have remained on my mind for weeks afterward. Give Journey the same attention you might bring to a musical concert, a well-directed film, or a long-awaited book, and its rewards are substantial.





post #870 of 1310
I've played through it and it's an incredible experience. So beautiful, so inspirational, but so quick to end cry.gif

I loved how you occasionally bump into other players while in the game and journey together.
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