Architect Lebbeus Woods riffs on Chris Marker’s 28-minute masterpiece, La Jeteé. Famously the inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, Marker’s 1962 film takes viewers on a journey by turns jarring, disconcerting, and ominous as well as playful, philosophic, and romantic. Using only still images and voiceover.
What makes this game work is the film’s verisimilitude, its accurate construction of a parallel with our actual experience. If we use architecture as an example, we begin with the realization that architecture is still, not itself moving, thus it lacks—in our perceptions at least—continuity. Walking through a building is much like the film, a sequence of still views that rely on a turn of the head to evoke movement. In that instant of turning we effectively perceive a blur at best, which our brains don’t register, much as they don’t register the background noise we live with, so that turning our heads becomes a quick cut from one image to the next, much the same as the film. It is telling to note that Marker does not use dissolves. Rather, he stays close to the way we actually see, discontinuously.
(La Jeteé is apparently now available for streaming at Netflix.)