Archives du mot-clé memory

New York Long Distance

Fr, En, Pt

Remerciements à Maureen Turim qui m’a suggéré le titre du film.

Ce film personnel fait se côtoyer des représentations d’une ville avec, sur la bande-son, des fragments autobiographiques. La distance du souvenir. La trace de cette distance façonne autant la mémoire que les lieux hantés par tant d’histoires, et fait voler en éclats nos repères. Éclats qui induisent un effondrement dans un tourbillon d’affects.






Nyld jpeg







Œuvre appartenant à une collection privée

Thanks to Maureen Turim who suggested me the title of the film.

A film about my relationship to New York since 1962. It deals with the distance between a memory and the image of this memory, a distance one always tries to abolish.
In this personal film we see the images of a city from a close distance, with autobiographic fragments on the soundtrack. The distance of recollection. The trace of this distance shapes the memory as much as the places, haunted by so many stories, so that our marks will blow up in a crash. A crash leading to a collapse in a vortex of affects.



Um filme sobre a minha relação com New York desde 1962. Ele lida com a distância entre uma memória, uma distância que sempre tentamos abolir. Neste filme pessoal, vemos as imagens de uma cidade a partir de uma distância próxima, com fragmentos autobiográficos  na trilha sonora. A distância do registro. O traço desta separação forma a memória, tanto quanto os lugares, perseguida por tantas histórias, de modo que nossas marcas vão explodir em um acidente. Um acidente levando a um colapso em um vórtice de afetos.

English translation voice over from the film track.

Although I arrived in New York the first time by boat, in ’62, my strongest memory is not of the Statue of Liberty (whose significance I’d come to understand later) but rather of the Roger Smith Hotel which for me had all the characteristics of a palace: the height, the grandeur, the imposing lobby, and then that oh-so-mysterious room: « Ten O Two » which was going to be our home for several weeks before we moved to upstate New York.

One day in ’83 coming down Lexington Avenue I noticed that it was right next to Grand Central Station. Was it the memory or the reality that made the splendor, now commonplace, disappear?

A few blocks further downtown, during a particularly frigid winter, a black man lay shot on the sidewalk. I had come to New York in 76 hoping that distance would blot out the emotional disarray of the end of an adolescent passion.

Arrivals in New York but also departures are moments out of time, parentheses. Getting off the plane, I’ve always loved to lose myself in this city, in vertiginous discoveries of other spaces: Christopher Street in ’78, the East Village in ’82.

I didn’t meet my first American lover in New York, but I often saw him there once he had moved back. I stayed with him several times in ’78, ’82, and ’83. He lived in the place formerly occupied by Millenium when it was founded.

A victim of AIDS, he commited suicide when he’d decided he no longer had the physical strength to go on. He held a going-away party; I called him that night to say good-bye, rather than going to see him for the last time.

It was in ’83, staying with Haoui, that I was first confronted by the homeless who were beginning to haunt Second Avenue. Over the years their numbers grew and a new survival economy developed.

In ’74, New York summer meant suffocating heat, the family’s break-up, put off for years, was finally accomplished. I was a witness not really involved in the disappearance; had the family ever existed?

I was upset to meet Patrick on 5th Avenue, he was living in Brooklyn, still painting (houses), and had abandoned his other ambitions. It was the kind of evening one would just as soon avoid. A painful confrontation. A distant echo of a passion of which nothing remained in ’89 except perhaps a fleeting memory.

In ’87, coming back from Buffalo with Miles, I realised that I’d taken this same trip numerous times in ’62 and ’74. Each time had been in the summer, but this time the greenery was not any longer a sign of decay and death.

To know more about New York Long Distance, read Scott Hammen’s article or readNew York Long Distance’s soundtrack.

Film belonging to a private collection

nyld prépa

Does One Film to Forget ? (Eng)

on line Cinema and the Brain Journal of Neuro-Aesthetic Theory #2, New York 2002

Does one film to forget ? Or is a film made to create an archive, a catalogue of souvenirs ? What is the relationship between cinema and memory ? When I think about cinema, I am referring mainly to experimental cinema, video, and film by visual artists. There are various connections between memory and cinema. Is memory already constituted or does it constitute itself through the use of or with images ? It is common knowledge that memory does not refer or limit itself to images ; rather, it convokes and exerts itself in accordance with all of our senses. In this article, however, I will limit myself to the relationship that cinema entertains with souvenir, memory, and therefore with the faculty of recycling audiovisual phenomena and the way in which we intercept this material. Some will argue that cinema is the ideal instrument to gather images in large quantities (now supplanted by video), and to restore moments, locations and behaviors linked to a given period. In this case, the thought process is close to documentary film, whether personal or militant in spirit. And, sometimes an ethnographical or sociological alibi that is more or less intentional will slip in between. Still others contend that the medium favors the irruption of an amateur’s cinema, a cinema devoid of quality, a cinema that finds statement in the setting up of filmed diaries.

Whatever form they adopt, these modes of statement maintain a privileged relationship with the manifestation and the constitution of memory, and the film projecting it bears the trace in the restitution process. In this case, we refer mostly to the notion of an intimate memory, whether or not it relates to family issues. Others insist such works refer to an identity quest that requires the use of a personal cinema, where autobiography and filmed diary merge. If one moves away from these paths, different kinds of relations establish themselves between cinema and memory. They become intense when it comes to building a specific, cinematographic experience necessitating the vision of the film to be produced. In this case, one is faced with a cinema that deals more with its constituents. I would like to call to mind these different attitudes by choosing to cover freely these various territories of cinema. This course is a passage from one window to the next, like clicking through a series of PC windows.

Consider the revelation experienced by Jonas Mekas when he discovered the United States would ground him and constitute the pedestal from which he would be able to say that he, in fact, remembers. This experience is present in Mekas’ film Lost Lost Lost(1943-76) and is emblematic of the way in which an acquired memory, unveiled by and through cinema, is discovered.

Such an aperture in time creates a familiar space, and is often employed in filmed diaries. An individual experience that can sometimes successfully be shared, this space occurs in Mekas’ work through the device of an “I remember” that neither Joe Brainard nor Georges Perec would refute. In this case, the act of filming favors the emergence of memory and spurs one, the pertinence or eviction of which becoming apparent during the editing process. Indeed, a filmmaker makes films by gathering miles of footage. Then he proceeds with the selection process of the material, a process without which no memory that is efficient is possible, as there is always the possibility of discarding and essentially forgetting.

One forgets in order to be able to remember. Sometimes I make filmed diaries that allow me to have memories, as if their realities depended on the fact that they are representations.

Just as films are made about families, a diary becomes a pretext for commentary ; rare are those filmed diaries that are silent (however this argument can be immediately refuted when one thinks of the first diaries by Hiroyuki Oki or Andrez Nores). To name but a few, Jonas Mekas, Boris Lehman, and Joseph Morder sacrifice everything to “keep quiet.” The viewer is transported back into a past that is no longer relevant or that attempts a linearity that often goes against the flow, as if cinema was able to organize the chaotic impetuosity of memories. This organizational procedure, beyond the editing of sequences, is accomplished through discourse and appears to regulate the fluctuations of sensation that are conveyed through the use of blur, over and under exposures, and abrupt camera movements. Translated into images, the experience therefore can be collectively shared, and is easier to comprehend.

From this point, we ask, is this type of sharing, which plays the game of regulated understanding and participation, pulling these films into coherence or, indeed, the “coherence of the past,” as stated by Guy Debord ? This is the coherence that a number of experimental filmmakers have questioned in their desire to abolish form and conventions of classical cinema. As if for the majority, theirs was a question of “destroying the memory in art,” or “ruining conventions of communication.”

“Voice-off” is used in a similar fashion in certain films by Hoang Tan Nguyen : Pirated(2000) and The Calling (2001). The technique structures the multiplicity of documents that were used to create the film. When Nguyen relates his experience about « boat people » and how his family was rescued by German sailors, he merges sequences taken from Hollywood films with ones from Querelle (Fassbinder, 1982) and then adds filmed or found sequences taken in Vietnam. In this way, discourse and the spoken word give meaning by gathering the many layers of sensation ; the multiplicity of sources enable the emergence of subjectivity at any given moment. The narrative becomes the means by which to organize diversity as well as open spaces from where the camera can twirl around. Indeed, the pauses and the silences in the narrative open the party to new visual shores. Mekas relies on blurry images that are a result of shots taken in haste, whereas Nguyen uses sliding effects and superimposed sequences taken from various sources.

Nguyen’s collection of images distinguishes itself from the filmed diaries in which the accumulation of material is restricted generally to the sphere of the intimate, even though it comes into contact with political or social events (as is the case with Gregg Bordowitz and Marlon Riggs). Nguyen recycles images in a great number of moments : private sequences, as well as undetermined or galvanized ones that in some cases have become clichés. By means of this transfer, new spheres of memory are articulated that conjugate and juxtapose a subjectivity to all incoming images. This process of recycling images and therefore their distribution according to individual fluxes, operates through phenomena of condensation. Such concretion then restitutes the processes of memorization, purporting that many residual noises attach themselves to memory. We realize there is no such thing as a smooth and polished memory, except in the case of (psycho) analytic grids.

Translation by Nathalie Angles