Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Marker of Photography

In an entry entitled The Jetty Stream that I posted a couple of months ago, I wrote about La Jetée, the brilliant and innovative short independent film about time travel by Chris Marker. While Marker is best known as a filmmaker, his contributions as a photographer are also substantial, perhaps even more so than as a filmmaker.

I was therefore pleased to find in my daily e-mail from The Chronicle of Higher Education a link to a piece about Chris Marker, nothing substantial, just a feature that they call "End Paper," but appropriately enough poetic. This is a reproduction of a page from the current issue of the periodical, and I am pleased to reproduce it, in turn, here in my blog:

Staring Long Enough
(Photographs courtesy of Chris Marker)

Article illustrationArticle illustration

I stare at them, but not enough, not long enough. There is a beautiful poem by Valery Larbaud, who evokes four young women he caught a glimpse of during his journeys, and he laments not being able to reach them now. "For, I don't know why, it seems to me that with them I could conquer a world." There is something of that megalomaniac melancholy in the browsing of past images. Perhaps, if I could catch up with that absolute beauty in Cape Verde, the violinist in Stockholm lost in her thoughts, the grandmother in Corsica kissing the sacred stone, the exhausted Chinese laborer, the Japanese extra sleeping between two takes, the two Russian girls listening to poetry, and the old man with his paper toys, perhaps I could conquer a world. Or rather, they would conquer a world for me.

The images are by the French filmmaker Chris Marker, from the exhibition "Chris Marker: Staring Back," at Ohio State University's Wexner Center for the Arts through August 12. The text, also by Mr. Marker, is from the accompanying catalog, published by the Wexner Center and MIT Press. The exhibition will be at the Peter Blum Gallery, in New York City, from September 15 through November 3.
Section: The Chronicle Review
Volume 53, Issue 45, Page B15

Perception is itself a subject for meditation, and especially so when we are talking about the relationship between perception and technology. Some call that phenomenology, but I'd rather look at it as media ecology. I defininitely plan to go see the exhibition when it comes to New York. The catalog is listed on Amazon as Staring Back by Chris Marker and Bill Horrigan and is available for pre-order, the publication date being September 30. And there's an unidentified photo next to the listing:
But that's the thing about photographs, they're all about mystery and revelation, distance and intimacy, nostalgia and immediacy, longing and fulfillment. They're all about travel, through space, time, vision, and mind.

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