Chris Marker

May 8, 2010 — Leave a comment

“a few words of explanation. These are not bona fide photographs. They’re stills from my video footage, somewhat manipulated thru the jujucraft of Photoshop and Painter. It’s an experiment I conducted for years, in order to extract meaningful images from the inordinate flow of video and television. I developed the concept of ’superliminal’, which is a sort of counterpoint to Subliminal. Instead of one frame lost in the stream of other different frames, Superliminal is one frame lost in the stream of almost IDENTICAL frames, or so it seems, for when you take ‘em one by one, one happens to be the real photogram, something nobody then has perceived, not even the guy who shot it (me in most cases).” (April 1, 2006)

“If subliminal refers to the object the eye doesn’t catch, yet the brain does, Superliminal is THE REVENGE OF THE EYE…that on slow-motion catches one image among others apparently identical as being the image…When one applies this system, as i do here, to his own footage, it may appear just as a refined way of sorting. When applied to alien material, the TV stuff for instance, in pure Duchampesque fashion, the robber becomes the author. Turning to black and white and Photoshop manipulations being the last stage of appropriation.” (May 4, 2006)

Chris Marker cited by Bill Horrigan in Some Other Time from Staring Back; Chris Marker pp139, 140 Wexner Centre For The Arts, The Ohio State University 2007.

On the blog Chris Marker: Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory, a short film constructed in Second Life by Chris Marker titled Ouvroir the Movie by Chris Marker follows a cat as it explores a land called Ouvroir. Media screening rooms display photographs and text that describe different memories. They are presented as artifacts that are somehow disembodied from the notion of the private or personal, or at least it seems this way. The cat makes its way through a tunnel of revolving text to get to the first room, where the first words to appear on the screens are words that resemble neologisms:



“that’s what the press says about the latest piece by Chris Marker, the best known author of unknown movies.”

This first room introduces the fact that these rooms are somehow correlated to Chris Markers own memory and experience. They are self-reflexive glimpses into Markers’ own ‘shoebox’ made public in a virtual space. In a recent lecture by Dean Keep, he described the notion of post-memory. Post-memory is the memory you inherit through ritual. The photo’s in your fathers album that correlate to his past become memories of your own as you apply the stories to them. A handing down of memory and myth. What becomes apparent here is that the photographs are not just documentary, but also memory sites themselves. Perhaps this is the purpose of the media rooms located in Ouvroir. They are memory sites in their own right.

The cat then progresses to the main room in which photographs are displayed and scrutinized as artifacts of Markers memory and representations of the length of a certain period of his life. He makes an interesting comparison between two photo’s of the exact same location taken forty years apart:

“Right in the middle, a small tree grew, within these few inches, forty years of my life.”

In the second photo, the tree has obviously grown a great deal. It seems to me that this is a gallery of remembrances and images that once appropriated into this space become alienated and fragmentary and somehow take on all new meaning. By becoming public, the memory artifact takes on a pronounced characteristic of Markers ‘superliminal’.


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