A Calendar of “Eye-Pod Poems”: Jonas Mekas and the 365 Day Project

Angelo Maria Grossi

Abstract


In 2007 (only one year after the launch of YouTube) Lithuanian-American avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas embarked on his first transmedial creation between cinema and the Internet, entitled 365 Day Project. Radicalizing the performative dimension which had characterized his experimental diary films, the then-octogenarian Mekas—one of the seminal figures of the “New American cinema”— challenged himself to create and publish a short film on his website for each day of the year 2007. All the short films (whose running time ranged from one and a half to twenty minutes) were free to be downloaded on the day of their publication, while later they could be bought for an inexpensive price. Footages were both old and new, creating a fragmented temporality (resulting in shifts in years, locations and topics) that brought the immediacy of the diary form into dialogue with memory and history. Mekas called these videos “eye-pod poems,” a wordplay that, on the one hand, indicated the confluence of aesthetic forms (film-poems, almost enacting Alexandre Astruc’s prophecy of the caméra-stylo), while, on the other, showcased an awareness of the plurality of the then-new devices through which they could be viewed. In fact, some of the films were not available to online viewing only, but were also displayed in various exhibitions.

Drawing on Henry Jenkins’ theories, this essay analyzes Mekas’ online film project as a creation that exemplifies the collision between old and new artistic media—typical of what Jenkins has called “convergence culture” (2006). Comparing the aesthetic strategies of Mekas’ online project with those of his diary films, the essay also argues that Mekas anticipated the modes of self-narration and self-representation of the social media, albeit with an unquestionably lyrical and artistic quality.


Keywords


Jonas Mekas, 365 Day Project, transmedia storytelling, diary film, convergence culture

Full Text:

PDF

References


Astruc, Alexandre. “The Birth of a New Avant-Garde: La Caméra-Stylo.” 1948. Film Manifestos and Global Cinema Cultures: A Critical Anthology. Edited by Scott MacKenzie. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014. 603-607.

Bolter, Jay. “Transference and Transparency: Digital Technology and the Remediation of Cinema.” Intermédialités: Histoire et théorie des arts, des lettres et des techniques/Intermediality: History and Theory of the Arts, Literature and Technologies 6 (2005): 13-26.

Bolter, Jay David and Richard Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999.

Di Crosta, Marida. “Du Canzoniere au journal filmé en ligne: 365 Day Project de Jonas Mekas.” MEI - Médiation et information 33 (2011): 175-184.

Eisenstein, Sergei. Film Form: Essays in Film Theory. Boston: HMH, 2014.

Heffernan, James A.W. Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis from Homer to Ashbery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Helmke, Juliet, et al. “In Conversation with Jonas Mekas.” The Brooklyn Rail 2010. https://brooklynrail.org/2010/11/art/in-conversation-with-jonas-mekas. Last visited 16/11/2020.

James, David E., edited by. To Free the Cinema: Jonas Mekas and the New York Underground. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Jenkins, Henry. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press, 2006.

“Jonas Mekas – Time management. Haiku film making (77/135).” YouTube, uploaded by Web of Stories. 29 August 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_894GAbTRUM.” Last visited 09/10/2020.

Luzzatto, Moshe Hayyim. Da’at Tevunot: The Knowing Heart. Translated by A. Kaplan. Jerusalem: Feldheim Publishers, 1982.

Mekas, Jonas. 365 Day Project. http://jonasmekasfilms.com/365. Last visited 09/10/2020.

---. Lost, Lost, Lost. 1976.

---. “The Diary Film (A Lecture on Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania).” 1972. Kahana, Jonathan, edited by. The Documentary Film Reader: History, Theory, Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. 737-741.

Mekas, Jonas, et al. Correspondence(s). 2011.

Naficy, Hamid. An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Obrist, Hans Ulrich. “Interview with Jonas Mekas.” 2010. http://www.vdrome.org/jonas-mekas-out-takes-from-the-life-of-a-happy-man-introduced-by-hans-ulrich-obrist-15-18-january-2015. Last visited 09/10/2020.

Rajewsky, Irina. “Intermediality, Intertextuality, and Remediation: A Literary Perspective on Intermediality.” Intermédialités: histoire et théorie des arts, des lettres et des techniques/Intermediality: History and Theory of the Arts, Literature and Technologies 6 (2005): 43-64.

Sitney, P. Adams. Eyes Upside Down: Visionary Filmmakers and the Heritage of Emerson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Trivelli, Anita. “Modernità e attualità della pratica diaristica di Jonas Mekas.” Modernità nelle Americhe. Vol. 1. Edited by Veronica Pravadelli. Roma: Roma Tre-Press, 2016. 141-168.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.13136/2281-4582/2020.i16.914

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.