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robertogreco : lajetée   10

Blind Spot | Blog—Jarrett Fuller
"Blind Spot, the writer and photographer Teju Cole’s new book, feels like a culmination of his intellectual work of the last few years. A master of shifting forms, Cole previously published two novels (Open City and Everyday is for a Thief) and an essay collection (Known and Strange Things), is the photography critic for The New York Times, and is prolific on Instagram where he showcases his photography. Blind Spot, a book that mixes text with his original photography, at once feels like a continuation of his previous work while also something completely new. How does one define Blind Spot? Is it a photo book or a novel? A travelogue or a poem? A memoir or a lyric essay? The answer, I think, is ‘yes’.

The photos — all shot on color film from Cole’s travels across the globe — blend seamlessly from Brooklyn to Berlin, Omaha to Africa. The images are quiet and largely devoid of humans, aside from a final striking portrait, recalling great street photographers like Stephen Shore and Louis Ghirri. The text — which shifts between narrative, memoir, criticism, poetry — sometimes refers to these photos while at other times remain independent. All of Cole’s familiar influences — Sebald, Berger, Calvino — are on display here.

The text reads less as captions as they do a voiceover — he’s said in interviews he sees the book as a documentary in book form — where another set of influences emerge. “I pray to Tarvoksy, Marker, Hitchcock” he writes in the middle of the book. Sure enough, the flipping between Cole’s text and image, one could see the book as homage to Chris Marker’s Sans Soliel. And as the photos start to reference each other, and fragments begin to connect, Marker’s more famous La Jetee comes to mind. There’s a playful reflexivity throughout — his writing reflects on his own writing process for the book, how he selected particular images, and what he hopes the book will be. In one passage he writes:
She asked, though these were not her exact words: Isn’t all the work part of a single piece? She asked, like someone patiently unlocking, with a pin, a pair of handcuffs: Aren’t all the photographs and texts, the fragments and experiments, even the things you say into a microphone, even the things you don’t say, aren’t they all installments toward a unified project? She said, though these are not her exact words: I have always felt that Open City was one way you approached the problem. You’re still circling the problem now, she said, obsessed, she said, and approaching it in other ways. You will probably always be returning to it, she said, making herself comfortable within the folds of my brain.

In a later passage, Cole invokes Calvino’s continuous city and his search of the threads that connect the places he visits. But he’s also looking for the threads that connect the images and the text. Calvino suggests that there is simply one big, continuous city that does not begin or end: ‘Only the name of the airport changes,’ he writes in Invisible Cities. The same can be said of Cole’s work — it’s simply one big, continuous journey — his intellectual interests and preoccupations recur — he finds new ways to display them, new ways to talk about them. Only the name of the book changes.

I read Open City, Cole’s first novel in 2015 during my last week in San Francisco, before moving to Baltimore for graduate school. My belongings were packed up and I’d lay on the floor in the middle of a nearly empty apartment reading. In the book, largely devoid of an obvious plot, we follow the narrator, Julius, as he walks through Manhattan. I started doing the same thing — after a period of reading, I’d put the book down, put classical music on in my headphones, and walk the San Francisco streets. This had been my neighborhood for the last three years but that week, with that music, and Cole’s prose rattling around in my head, I saw the city differently. That, I think, is the thread that ties Cole’s work together. He changes your pace, forces you to slow down. His writing is patient, his photography reserved. He makes you look, really look. This world moves fast. There’s always something new to read, new tweets, new emails, new books, new music. Last month’s news feels like a decade ago.

Blind Spot is a book about looking; about seeing what’s in the frame, about reflecting on what we see. Teju Cole asks us to slow down so we can understand our own blind spots. I saw San Francisco differently that last week, and as I finished Blind Spot this week, I started to see New York differently too. He taught me to see."
tejucole  jarrettfuller  2017  writing  photography  italocalvino  johnberger  wgsebald  chrismarker  film  walking  cities  urban  ubanism  place  landscape  noticing  looking  seeing  sansoleil  lajetée  blindspot 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Paris Review - Chris Marker’s Studio, Adam Bartos and Ben Lerner
"Chris Marker, whose name was not “Chris Marker,” was a play of masks and avatars, an artist who leapt, like one of his beloved cats, from medium to medium. If, as Walter Benjamin said, a great work either dissolves a genre or invents one, if each great work is a special case, Marker produced a series of special cases. He invented the genre of the essay film; he composed what is widely considered the greatest short film ever made, La Jetée, in 1962; in the late nineties, he issued one of the first major artworks of the digital age, the CD-ROM Immemory. Even Marker’s relation to his own celebrity was an evasive masterpiece: until his death in 2012, at ninety-one, he was everywhere and nowhere, refusing both the haughty fantasy of nonparticipation and the seductions of spectacle. How do you ­memorialize an artist who refused to remain identical to himself? How do you remember one of the great philosopher-artists of memory?

Adam Bartos’s photographs of Marker’s Paris studio offer a powerful answer; they are beautiful portraits from which the subject has gone missing.

In Bartos’s photographs, people are everywhere and nowhere. The first of his books I encountered was International Territory (1994), a series of ­images of the UN building in New York. Emptied of people, the architecture is left to dream its modernist dream of a future that never arrives. In many of the images, a distinctly postapocalyptic feeling obtains: without a speaker atop it, the General Assembly podium appears like a giant tomb; the subtle signs of aging infrastructure—cracks in the walls, peeling paint—make the building look less momentarily vacated than abandoned. I can’t quite decide, for instance, whether the coat hanging in the photograph of the Russian Translation Service indicates that someone is working just beyond the frame or whether the garment has been hanging there for years. The healthy-­looking office plants that appear in several images look less like ­reassuring signs of habitation than ominous indications that nature is starting to reclaim the buildings of a depopulated city. And the single rose in a vase at the center of the image of the Delegates Dining Room—is that freshly cut or plastic? Bartos’s photographs are full of such ambiguities, undecidable temporalities. Across his projects, I experience the contradictory sense that the human figure is just about to reenter the picture and that the architecture and furniture will never again be occupied. Of course, this shifting sense of presence and absence isn’t an effect merely of what’s depicted, but of how: Bartos’s images feel both perfectly composed and simply found, patterned and yet unmanipulated, which means that my awareness of someone “­behind” the camera dims and intensifies and dims again as I look.

The architecture dreams, the chairs expect—on a variety of scales, Bartos can reveal how collective fantasies about the future are sedimented in materials. A few people do appear in Boulevard (2005), for instance, a book that juxtaposes images of Los Angeles and Paris—two historical centers of image making—but the pathos belongs to objects. Parked cars in an empty lot in Los Angeles and an unoccupied table for two at a Parisian restaurant (shot through the window from the street, but at an angle from which the photographer is not reflected in the glass, adding to the sense the image was taken by a ghost) seem to “wait without hope”—to quote Eliot, whom Marker loved—for drivers and diners. The sense of waiting in Bartos’s work is key: What appears, appears to wait for the return of the human, but since nothing is as human as waiting, as the experience of duration that is boredom, I begin to invest things with feelings. And then the things look back at me.

Crucially, most of what appears in Bartos’s photos is dated; he depicts old futurisms, a special case of anachronism. Kosmos (2001)—I see a copy of this book on Marker’s shelf in one of the studio photographs—shows us the technologies and uniforms of Russian cosmonauts; Yard Sale Photographs (2009) explores that ritual suburban purging of barely resalable junk and memory. The shape of a fender, the linoleum of a counter, the outmoded ergonomics of an empty office chair, the now archaic instantaneity of the Polaroid, color schemes that register the collective affect of another age—we see in Bartos’s work period styles falling out of their periods. And Bartos is always depicting other media within his medium: books, cameras, keyboards, old audio technology, et cetera. The quietly managed motif of discarded ­media makes each image feel time sensitive—the older technologies are, among other things, memento mori for Bartos’s camera, which adds an element of fragility to each picture’s quiet confidence.

Bartos’s most recent book, Darkroom (2011), gathers many of these concerns. His sense of composition can make even a photograph taken in the open air seem like an interior carefully arranged by a ghostly presence; a darkroom, typically an interior within an interior, is the nude of rooms, a site of exposure exposed. It is also the most dated of spaces, as digital technology has eliminated the dialectic of light and darkness once constitutive of the photographic art. Darkroom is an elegy for process and for patience, although, like many elegies, Bartos reinscribes the values he mourns, as his own photographs evince a sensitivity that makes nostalgia for a previous moment in the medium beside the point. These images of the displaced origin of images are again subtle evocations of distinct temporalities: the time required for a photograph (of an instant) to develop in a chemical bath, technological developments that supplant that process in historical time. No photographer ever appears within the photographs, and Bartos’s touch is so light, it’s almost as if he’s given his camera a moment alone with the darkroom so that it can pay its last respects.

Marker’s studio is a kind of (light-flooded) darkroom located off a Parisian boulevard and is as full of formerly futuristic keepsakes as a cosmonaut’s yard sale—that is to say, Bartos has been preparing, without knowing it, to shoot Marker’s studio for decades. The studio is both remarkably cluttered and remarkably clean. There is no trash (although there is plenty of kitsch), no dust; the thousands of books, VHS tapes, and CDs, the multiple computers, monitors, keyboards, and other production technologies all seem in their place. A sense of highly personal order prevails; Marker, I feel, would have just the right texts and images and totems at hand, but anyone else would be at a loss regarding how to navigate his systems. And while Marker isn’t at home, from every corner something gazes at us: his cats and owls, Kim Novak in a signed photograph (Vertigo was Marker’s favorite film), the paused image of an actress on a monitor (in these images, Marker will forever almost be right back), masks of various sorts, stuffed animals, et cetera. Marker’s mind seems spatialized here, as though we were looking into his memory palace, an elaborate, idiosyncratic mnemonic become a memorial. But a joyous memorial: joyous first, because Marker’s signature mix of seriousness and playfulness is palpable—we see a thousand grins and winks—and second, because Marker, instead of becoming the fixed ­object of elegy, has again given us the slip, allowing us an intimate glimpse, but of privacy. "
chrismarker  studios  adambartos  howwework  2016  benlerner  photography  lajetée 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Williams Gibson: On Technophobia and the Power of Film | Literary Hub
"In part one [http://lithub.com/william-gibson-on-phones-fiction-and-the-end-of-the-world/ + https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-one/s-0Jwns ] of Paul Holdengraber’s phone call with William Gibson, topics included dystopias, the universal screenwriter, and the disruption of the telephone. In part two,

[https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-two/s-my54E ]

William Gibson on the availability of culture…

If you had never heard recorded music and you didn’t have it as a category of experience—if it simply never existed for you—I think that your concept of what music is would be fantastically different. Something that’s happened, a change that’s occurred over the course of my own life that I think somewhat puts this vague claim I’m making into perspective, is the way in which seeing a film used to be something that was so dependent on so many factors that it made it largely unrepeatable. You could see the film on its theatrical release, but unless you lived in, say, New York, there were no repertory cinemas. So people saw a film once and then lived with it in memory, there was no television, there were no videotapes of films. Film existed primarily in memory, and the experience of actually seeing it was very intense.

William Gibson on Chris Marker…

I first saw Chris Marker’s La Jetée in a film history course when I was an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia. I had been vaguely aware of it earlier because it is, you know, technically a science fiction film even though it’s a short avant-garde French film. I had had in my life no opportunity to see any avant-garde French film, so I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t really expecting very much. It had this extraordinarily profound effect on me, and it’s very, very brief. I actually left the lecture hall feeling uneasily that I had somehow—that something had happened, that I’d experienced some sort of transformation, and I didn’t know what it was.

William Gibson on technophobia…

I’m dubious about ranking… I’m not sure about ranking. I’ve long suspected that what our descendants will find quaintest about us it that we made distinctions of that sort. That they’ll be looking back and they’ll be going, So strange they didn’t think Facebook was “real.” There’s a wonderful, weird book, the title of which I will probably be unable to remember, but it’s a collection of first-person accounts of Victorians encountering new technologies. It’s taken from diaries and letters—it’s not famous people, just ordinary people. The one that always struck me was an Anglican clergyman who went to a garden party, heard an Edison phonograph talking, and went home and wrote this completely terrifying description of this demonic, satanic, mechanical voice speaking to the children in the garden, and how this probably presaged the end of the world. He was just writing for himself, so he wasn’t exaggerating, and I thought, Oh, wow. He had this absolutely intense experience, but I don’t think I could say that what it caused him to fear came to pass."
williamgibson  technophobia  film  chrismarker  lajetee  culture  2016  television  tv  paulholdengraber  interviews  experience  memory  recordings  music  audio  listening  nostalgia  lajetée 
january 2016 by robertogreco
markertext.com : Chris Marker - image = text
[transcripts from the films]

""Cat, wherever you are, peace be with you."

Chris Marker:

à Valparaiso
Coréenes
Description of a Struggle
La Jetée
Letter from Siberia

Sans Soleil - French text
Sans Soleil / Sunless - English text
Sans Soleil / サン・ソレイユ - Japanese text (PDF)
Sans Soleil / 태양 없이 - Korean text
Sans Soleil / Без Солнца - Russian text

A few links

Comment or contribute text: sandor (at) markertext.com"

[Came via/for this one: http://www.markertext.com/sans_soleil.htm ]
chrismarker  lajetée  sanssoleil  transcripts  documentary  coréenes  àvalparaiso  film 
march 2015 by robertogreco
GODARD MONTAGE: Chris Marker's Camera-Stylo / "Notes On Filmmaking"
"To return to Astruc, tonight's film Sans Soleil is an example of "La Camera-Stylo" par excellence. An entire book could be dedicated to Marker's editing in the film, so I will not focus on it in particular at the moment; suffice to say the montage would not have been as effective if the footage itself was not shot with such patient and active framing and movement, by a true camera-writer. I am also choosing not to mention the text, which is of course essential to the film – my focus is solely on the creative independence offered by the small camera, which Astruc so presciently predicted.

The majority of the footage was shot by Marker himself, using a silent 16mm Beaulieu film camera to capture his own compendium of "things that quicken the heart." Although notes on the production are scare if existent at all due to Marker's public reclusiveness, we can assume a number of basic qualities that tie back to Astruc's ideas. Marker's footage seems to have been shot as the events and subjects were discovered and unfolding, and the lightweight Beaulieu provided the discreet ability to write with motion anywhere at any time during Marker's travels. Here we can note the uncanny clarity and purpose with which Marker investigates and focuses on his subjects. Early in the film at the cat cemetery in Tokyo, we have reason to suspect the man behind the camera is not an amateur but truly an auteur cameraman, as Marker moves to reframe the woman praying to the cat shrine.

[image]

Some of my other favorite stills from the film – needless to say a pretty difficult task to choose. Note the care in framing and composition:

[images]

Serving as the film's editor as well as the fictional narrator and fictional cameraman Sandor Krashna (Krashna's friend Hayao Yamaneko is also Marker, the name translating to "Mountain Cat" or "Wild Cat," cats being of course a favorite animal [of the filmmaker]) Marker creates a work that the term "essay film" only begins to describe. Indeed, this type of filmmaking seems a direct extension of Astruc's idea of the roles of screenwriter and director losing their distinction as new technology permits the evasion of the industrial mode of filmmaking that had so far codified into the classical Hollywood system and its worldwide exponents.

Marker's process is not unlike writing a novel or essay, wherein the author is alone with his stylus, writing an excess of ideas and musings which will ultimately be edited into its final form. Except with Marker, the writer is out engaging with the events of the world. Watching the film I feel as I am discovering cinema's potential for the first time – Sans Soleil gives lie to the notion that a fledgling filmmaker must be follow some arbitrary industrial production procedure in order to produce a work that is personal, affective, complex and sincere. As Abbas Kiarostami notes on his masterclass 10 on Ten, in regards to the small DV camera he used on Ten, small cameras "allow the artist to work alone again." Here the distinction between documentary and fiction loses its relevance in the same way it did for Godard in 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her. As Sam mentioned following the screening, it's simply because Marker and Godard choose to simply make a film and do not worry about the categories and genres which are ascribed after the fact.

Below is an excerpt from Marker's text I transcribed from the Criterion box set for Sans Soleil/La Jetee. I cannot help but take Marker's point that technology today could allow for anyone to create something extremely personal and exploratory, free from the restraints of capital. Although his reference to Vertov is certainly appropriate, Astruc could have been evoked just as easily. The real question is: with the advent of incredibly cheap HD video cameras (this generation's Beaulieu), why aren't there more films produced in kindred spirit with Sans Soleil? Why are there virtually no other camera-writers and most importantly:

"Will there be a last letter?"

- Ian

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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."
chrismarker  budget  constraints  filmmaking  lajetée  sanssoleil  audio  film  tools  howwework  cinematography  cameras  editing  framing  composition  dzigavertov  technology 
march 2015 by robertogreco
FILM; Chris Marker: Already Living in Film's Future - New York Times
"Had she smiled? It was miraculous, as if one was seeing and feeling in an instant the revolution by which still pictures became cinema. It was a magical way of saying, ''Look, there is the message, there is the thing about movies: they have a special affinity for passing time, for change and evanescence, for memory or forgetting.'' … Mr. Marker is far less impressed by the camera's neutrality or its ability to record things whole. He loves imagery, but does not trust it. His essential influences -- Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov -- are filmmakers who explored montage (or editing) as a stimulus to argument. Pictures come to life if we are looking, thinking, testing; they demand definition, not just awed witness. Above all, Mr. Marker sees that imagery has become a chief resort of our collective memory -- but in a way that stresses our isolation as much as our involvement. To adapt the critic John Berger (another Markerian) a little: photographs evoke presence and absence at the same time. We are there, in the scene, yet cut off from it. It is the model for so much of modern experience -- our amazing ability to acquire information usually depends on some distancing mechanism. We do not know things so much as pretend to know them. … Mr. Marker is already at work on a more sophisticated version of ''Immemory'' (for the technology changes every year). What it already amounts to is a trip through one man's archive -- or memory. And to many people, it seems the most likely future for film -- a new kind of cinema, private, solitary, exploratory, yet full of epiphanies, like the breathing face in ''Jetée.'' Some may lament the loss of all the old communal atmospherics of moviegoing. Yet others see in such filmmaking a recognition of the essential loneliness of humankind -- and a return to the kind of information exchange exemplified by, of all things, writing and reading."
2003  chrismarker  film  cinema  memory  time  change  forgetting  isolation  knowing  via:Preoccupations  lajetée 
july 2012 by robertogreco
A Cinematic Novel: ‘Historias extraordinarias’ | Hydra Magazine
"The pleasure of watching Historias extraordinarias derives in large part from the sheer magnitude of the multiple narratives that propel the film forward.

…One such episode recounts a brutal robbery and mass killing using only photographs for visualization, creating suspense and terror from a deft sequencing of photo stills, a technique reminiscent of Chris Marker’s canonical masterwork, La jetée (1962). Another memorable section ingeniously weaves the actual work and biography of obscure Argentine architect, Francisco Salamone, into one of the central plot threads. To Llinás, fiction and nonfiction are perpetually on level terms.

The graphic textuality of Historias extraordinarias owes much also to the comic book and graphic novel medium. In an interview with Argentine novelist Alan Pauls, Llinás explains that one of the chief inspirations for the scenario was Hergé’s classic comic-strip series, Les Aventures de Tintin…"
intertextuality  narrative  literature  alanpauls  franciscosalamone  narration  fiction  nonfiction  towatch  argentina  borges  2011  film  tintin  hergé  marianollinás  historiasextraordinarias  andrébazin  storytelling  comics  chrismarker  lajetée 
january 2012 by robertogreco
La Jetée: Ciné-Roman
"book version of the legendary 1964 science fiction film about time and memory after a nuclear apocalypse. Chris Marker, the undisputed master of the filmic essay, composed the film almost entirely of still photographs. It traces a desperate experiment by
sciencefiction  books  film  lajetée  scifi  french  france  photography  via:preoccupations  chrismarker 
january 2008 by robertogreco
La Jetée - Wikipedia
"La Jetée (1962) (literally "The Jetty") 28-minute science fiction film in black and white by Chris Marker."
film  scifi  science  fiction  france  french  photography  comics  sciencefiction  chrismarker  lajetée 
december 2006 by robertogreco
Ballardian: The World of JG Ballard » Retrospecto: La Jetee
"It highlights why we are attracted to SF in the first place: not for bug-eyed aliens or galaxy-hopping spaceships, but for the way in which the form can twist our most cherished versions of reality inside out."
film  scifi  science  fiction  france  french  photography  comics  jgballard  sciencefiction  chrismarker  lajetée 
december 2006 by robertogreco

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