Future Cinema

Course Site for Future Cinema 1 (and sometimes Future Cinema 2: Applied Theory) at York University, Canada

On Chris Marker’s Immemory

In most of his works, Chris Marker is very much preoccupied with the molding of his persona as a sort of mythical Author. In the case of Immemory, Marker is concerned with how to hide his megalomaniac intentions behind “a more modest and perhaps more fruitful” appearance. That is, fruitful to him.

In fact, in the booklet accompanying the Immemory CD-ROM, Marker states: “In our moments of megalomaniacal daydreaming, we tend to view our memory as a kind of History Book: we have won and lost battles, found and lost whole empires. At the very least we are characters from a classic novel (’My life is such a novel!’). A more modest and perhaps more fruitful approach would be to consider the fragments of memory in terms of geography.”

Through this interactive CD-ROM, Marker seems to grant us access to his personal archive of memories, to the events that marked his life, in a way, to his past. Through quotes, personal notes, pictures and video clips that are linked to each other in a maze-like fashion the spectator is given the honour to freely navigate through this astutely chosen material by following what Marker calls “links” and “bifurcations”. Far from granting actual access to the material, this fancy wording describes pseudo-choices in a self-referencing hyper-textual experience. Sure enough, you can spend as long as you want indulging in the semantically titillating texts or onanizing on the semiotics of his images, but you’ll soon realize that you have fallen into a trap and that you have been fed off baits all along, that Immemory is nothing but a labyrinth created to confuse you. A labyrinth where the Marker-Minotaur dresses and acts as if he was Ariadne. But he doesn’t have her grace, and cannot veil his intentions. Not to say that Ariadne’s dress is too tight for him. How charming.

Fortunately, the once cutting-edge technology that has been used to lure the spectator into this trap has kept evolving since 1998. In 2009, Immemory looks like a pathetical mockup of the Internet itself.

Other database projects might do a better job in serving the spectator, in making her/him an inextricable part of their narrative. Immemory just serves Marker, not leaving much to the spectator. This, unless the spectator decides to focus on what Immemory hides instead of what it purportedly shows. All Immemory’s unwanted limitations and well camouflaged omissions, can play in the spectator’s favour if they are interpreted by her/his immune system as precursors of the epistemological virus that the Internet can be. In fact, Marker’s failed attempt at pushing the boundaries of the essay film into the hypertextual world suggests that this very same hypertextuality is just the simulacrum of knowledge at least as much as democracy is the illusion of freedom. And, at the end, the internet, that is the ultimate hypertextual experience, is nothing more than a virtual piñata game.

In case the reader feels (s)he might be more comfortable in reading more hagiographic but nonetheless somewhat interesting text about Immemory, (s)he can find it on Chris Marker’s website:


Mon, November 9 2009 » Futurecinema_2009