When Filmmaking Amounts to Living
Jonas Mekas is a filmmaker who has known how to record every minute event in his life to transform it into visual poetry.
With his usual quavering voice, as he contemplates his family camping in the countryside, Jonas Mekas asserts he has found paradise. It’s his film As I was Moving Ahead, I Saw Brief Glimpses of Beauty. The result of a sum of fragments filmed throughout fifty years, and lasting five hours, the work shows the Lithuanian filmmaker’s particular vision of film (and life). Even if, perhaps, when we refer to him it is not appropriate to differentiate film from life.
The early experience of a Nazi labor camp, which forced him and his brother to immigrate, first to Denmark and afterwards to the United States marked his career. From this experience Mekas inherited a nostalgic gaze, attached to the instant, a perennial need to record the most minimal events as a way to compensate for his uprooting. Through the camera, everyday objects and fleeting instants have been elevated to the category of cinematic poetry, making a simple walk with friends acquire the value of an immortal work of art. To transmute everyday life into art, and art into something quotidian, seems to be the purpose of Jonas Mekas’ work.
His films are the result of an extraordinary sensitivity for the fleeting, a restless eye for which reality and fiction are threads of the same tapestry. Often, in his films, he asks himself: What is real?
Together with his brother, in 1955 Mekas founded the mythical film magazine Culture, in which, in addition to his film criticism, he exposed ideas on films of the future. In some of his texts he affirmed the need for a film that is more concerned with the fate of man than with that of art.
In his fundamental Reminiscences of a Journey to Lithuania, Mekas poetically unstitches a trip to Seminiskiai, his home country, after twenty-seven years of exile. Making use of the essential power of film, that is, of making time a plastic matter, the filmmaker recomposes through images the memory of the cardinal event of his existence.
Film as a journal, film as a testimony of life. Mekas’ films hypnotize due to their vibration, as if in them the matter of life was reorganized to denote its marvels. The peculiar vibration of light, the results of an apparently random montage, together with the film’s hypnotic flow, confer on his films the ethereal aspect of memories ––images that seem to fade just so they can appear before us.
Mekas has proven that to make film we only need a small camera and a lot of passion. His love for images encumbered the filmed diary and other minor formats to the ranks of cinematic poetry. To make film, he seems to tell us, is to have the need to steal time of every instant, the memory of every image, life of every glimpse of beauty. And for this we do not need grand means; the technical flashiness of Hollywood’s productions.
Paraphrasing Descartes, Mekas once claimed: “I film, therefore I am”; and today, over ninety years old and fully active, he still puts his existence there.
Why shrinking the size of life is synonymous of well-being
One of the great misunderstandings regarding modern spirituality is that to achieve it requires many things: readings, food, exercise, travel, groups and techniques. But perhaps it should be suggested
What is energy medicine yoga?
Energy Medicine Yoga (EMYoga) is slightly different from other types of Yoga, but it provides the same benefits in addition to a few very specific ones. One of them is that it gives you much more in
Red tea, the best antioxidant beverage on earth
Red tea is considered to be the most unusual of teas because it implies a consistently different preparation process. ––It is believed that its finding came upon surprisingly when traditional green
Is the internet on the verge of self-awareness?
More than 50 years ago, Marshall McLuhan described technology as an extension of our brains, constantly mutating and branching out. “These new media have made our world into a single unit,” the
How art can help us to age, healthy
Perhaps many of us already well know the formula for aging in health and wellness. A balanced diet and, as much as possible, one that’s natural. Keep our brains active and stimulated. Preserve and
Earthanima: documenting the living language of nature
The basic intuition that the Earth is alive and that nature has a language through which it communicates with us is what prompted this wood-art project named Earthanima. For the past couple of years
Dialogue with the Dalai Lama on science and spirituality
The Dalai Lama has been interested in science since he was a child. Over the years he’s visited many laboratories and has attended conferences that discuss consciousness from the scientific point of
Brian Eno's literary recommendations to rebuild society
Artists and authors often get asked what books or records they’d take with them to a deserted island. On principle, this is naturally an extreme anthology: urgency and tragedy guide its selection. It
Bill Mollison, natural ideologue and father of permaculture
Permaculture has established itself as a path towards communitarianism, but one that is in full symbiosis with nature. In practice, it is more than just a combination of agriculture, horticulture
A New Year's resolution for the earth
Worrisome quantities of waste are generated by human populations. Especially in cities, these have reached unprecedented and alarming levels. A largely uncontrolled practice, it affects everything on