The Center for French and Francophone Studies



                          Minutes of the intervention of Jean-François Guennoc  Wednesday, February 26

[Watch the video here ]


From 23 to 27 February, the CFFS welcomed Jean-François Guennoc, professor and head of Letters license and the course “writes Crafts” in the Humanities Department, Arts and Film at the University of Paris Diderot (Paris 7).

If his speech concerned the current debate around digital humanities or Digital humanity, Jean-François Guennoc was originally interested in travel literature. He has worked on Nicolas Bouvier, a writer, photographer and Swiss traveler (1929-1998). [See the last conference about it on the site program Fabula ].

His lecture entitled “Chris Marker, A Critical Thinker of Digital Humanity (and Humanities)” focused on the French director (1921-2012) and on the contribution of film studies in the debate on digital humanity. Through images and film excerpts Level 5 (1996) and Sans Soleil (1983) Guennoc has sought to demonstrate this argument by focusing respectively on definitions of digital humanity, cinematographic terms of thought criticism, and finally the poetic strategies Chris Marker as a resistance to the alienation of digital humanity.

Guennoc proposed to begin with a definition of digital humanity this by the three types of humanism identified by Claude Lévi-Srauss in Western history; the aristocratic Renaissance humanism, bourgeois humanism of exoticism and democratic humanism of 20 th century. According to historian and philosopher Milad Doueihi, the current period thus marks our entry into the digital humanism. By changing the practices of the humanities and shaping the human being, creates new digital humanities. Doueihi thus refers to Giambattista Vico and supports the digital humanity should be analyzed from within. According Guennoc, that is precisely what the cinematographic work qu’effectue Marker. The plot of La Jetée , the science fiction film (1962), examines the power of humanity to travel in time, and to experience the digital future humanity. This power is transferred most in the particular state of consciousness called “REM sleep” a few characters. [In English it refers to the phenomenon as REM name]. It should be noted that the Minority Report by Steven Spielberg (2002) provides a similar plot.

The image archive, but also those from the TV are part of the film work of Marker. They illustrate both the idea of a continuity between the civilizations of the image and the digital. [McLuhan’s argument, on our television era is about it]. In Sans Soleil , passing the images in a machine called “The Zone” Marker allows these same images will give for what they are, images: solarized and filtered, and not as portable and compact form of an already available for reality television. It is interesting to note that “the Area” recalls “Spectron”, the device used in 1978 by Marker in his video installation When the century took forms produced by the Centre Pompidou. Through the death of the hero in Level Five , which is not presented as a death Marker distinguishes the disappearance of the process of alienation, indicating his preference for the first and the triumph of ambiguity on the ambivalence. In his work, the filmmaker invites us to discover and understand rather than judge what threatens us in the digital humanity.

Finally, Jean-François Guennoc addresses a poetic strategies Marker to resist this alienation: that of the mask. Covering his face with a cat drawing face the camera lens, the image of Marker, that of a faceless author, offers itself as a free and enigmatic figure and illustrates an old belief: that the magic power of photography can fly the soul of the subject. Guennoc therefore concluded his lecture on the same multiplicity of Marker, only the image of the man with the cat manages to illustrate. Like them, Chris Marker had indeed many lives – traveler, filmmaker, writer and photographer – and was as an anonymous figure but especially multiple. Cinema expresses the passing of time the pain, but first establishes a relationship between the viewer and the screen so that the image of the world is never static.

The text of Jean-François Guennoc was translated into English by Rachel Rothendler (first year student in PhD).


                                                                                                    Rapporteur: Sandie Blaise