Notes and Sketches (Walden) #4.

That's what cinema is, single frames. Cinema is between the frames.

light ... movement ... sun ... light ... heart beating ... breathing ... light

J.M.: For Eisenstein it's a collision, to you it's... ?
P.K.: Yes, it can be a collision. Or it could be a very weak succession. There are many, many possibilities. It's just that Eisenstein wanted to have a collision - that's what he liked. But what I wanted to say is: Where is, then, the articulation of cinema? Eisenstein, for example, said: it's the collision of two shots. But it's very strange that nobody ever said that IT'S NOT BETWEEN SHOTS BUT BETWEEN FRAMES. It's between frames where cinema speaks. And then, when you have a roll of very weak collisions between frames -- this is what I would call a shot, when one frame is similar to the next frame, and the next frame, and the next frame, and the next frame, and the next frame -- the result that you get when you have just a natural scene and you film it, this would be a shot. But in reality you can work with every frame.

--Peter Kubelka, interviewed by Jonas Mekas, Film Culture 44, 1967, p.45.

they tell me I should be always searching
but I am only celebrating what I see

Diaries, Notes and Sketches (also known as Walden) - Jonas Mekas, 1969, 16mm


Also: entrevista con Jonas Mekas, I y II, Lumière 3, 2010.


Notes and Sketches (Walden) #3



Home Movie Textbook

for Caroline & John



Shoot a tree in wind, for ten seconds, continuously. / Shoot a tree in wind, in brief spurts of frames, in order to condense one minute of actual time to ten seconds of filmed time. / See what happens.


Shoot a face of a person, for ten seconds, continuously. / Shoot the same face, in brief spurts, in order to have ten seconds of filmed time. / See what happens.


Shoot fire (or candle) for ten seconds. Keep the camera focused on fire, steadily. / See what happens.


Point a camera at the horizon and turn around fast. / Point a camera at the horizon and turn around very slowly. / See what happens.


Shoot a brief spurt (two seconds) of a face; then shoot a brief spurt of a colorful flower, any color; then shoot the face again, briefly; then the flower again. Do this about ten times. / See what happens.


Shoot a street (you could do it from a window) busy with traffic. Shoot continuously for ten seconds. / Shoot the same street and traffic in very brief spurts of frames. Get ten seconds of footage. / See what happens.

--Jonas Mekas, extract from “This Side of Paradise”: Fragments of an Unfinished Biography (Paris: Galerie du jour Agnès B., 1999), qtd. in Eyes Upside Down, by P. Adams Sitney, OUP, 2008, p.92-3.



these are the fragments of paradise

There was a tree in Central Park that I wanted to [film]. I really liked that tree, and I kept filming at the very beginning — when I began. And then I look on the viewer and it’s not the same. It’s just a tree standing there: it’s boring. And then I began filming the tree in little fragments: I fragmented; I condensed ... and then you can see the wind in it; then you can see some energy in it. Then it became something else. Ah, that’s more interesting! That’s my tree! That’s the tree that I like, not just a tree that is naturalistic and boring, not what I saw in that tree when I was looking. I’m trying to get to why I’m looking at what I’m filming, why I’m filming it, and how I’m filming. The style reflects what I feel. ... I’m trying to understand myself, what I do. ... I’m totally ignorant of what I’m doing.

--Jonas Mekas, John Sacret Young Lecture, Princeton University, February 18, 2004, qtd. in Eyes Upside Down by P. Adams Sitney, OUP, 2008, p.91.

Diaries, Notes and Sketches (also known as Walden) - Jonas Mekas, 1969, 16mm

To anticipate, not the sunrise and the dawn merely, but, if possible, Nature herself! How many mornings, summer and winter, before yet any neighbor was stirring about his business, have I been about mine! No doubt, many of my townsmen have met me returning from this enterprise, farmers starting for Boston in the twilight, or woodchoppers going to their work. It is true, I never assisted the sun materially in his rising, but, doubt not, it was of the last importance only to be present at it.

--Henry David Thoreau, Walden; or, Life in the Woods, 1854.

Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sunrise would kill me,
If I could not now and always send sunrise out of me. /
We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun,
We found our own my soul in the calm and cool of the daybreak. /
My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach,
With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes of worlds.

--Walt Whitman, Song of Myself; Leaves of Grass, The First (1855) Edition.

Notes and Sketches (Walden) #2

Diaries, Notes and Sketches (also known as Walden) - Jonas Mekas, 1969, 16mm


Tung - Bruce Baillie, 1966, 16mm


Notes and Sketches (Walden) #1

In the times of bigness, spectaculars, one hundred million dollar movie productions, I want to speak for the small, invisible acts of human spirit: so subtle, so small, that they die when brought out under the clean lights. I want to celebrate the small forms of cinema: the lyrical form, the poem, the watercolor, etude, sketch, portrait, arabesque, and bagatelle, and little 8mm songs. In the times when everybody wants to succeed and sell, I want to celebrate those who embrace and pursue the invisible, the personal things that bring no money and no bread and make no contemporary history, art history or any other history. I am for art which we do for each other, as friends.

People, in this city, often have to shoot, in self-defense. With a real gun. I shot my film diaries also out of self-defence, to protect myself from being crushed by the bleakness of the reality around me, defending myself against the attacks on all my senses, on my whole being. Yes, I film out of self-defense. You could look at my diaries also as an attempt to correct the City, the Land, by stressing certain aspects and by suppressing others. That's why I stress Celebration, the celebrative details of life around me - because that's what's lacking here, today. I am making corrections. Artists are correctors of their societies. They try to correct what the politicians and 'social workers' mess up.

--Jonas Mekas, April 8, 1971, reprinted in Le Livre de Walden (eds. Pip Chodorov & Christian Lebrat, 2009).

We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour.

--Thoreau, Walden; or, Life in the Woods, 1854.

Diaries, Notes and Sketches (also known as Walden) - Jonas Mekas, 1969, 16mm


Distance(s) #7

The Big Steal - Don Siegel, 1949, 35mm


The River's Edge - Allan Dwan, 1957, 35mm