Panel 3E Cinematic Transcodifications/2
Session 3 – July 2, 11:00 – 13:00
A Calendar of Eye-Pod Poems: Jonas Mekas and the 365 Day Project
In 2007 (only one year after the launch of YouTube) Lithuanian-American avant-garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas embarked in his first creation involving the Internet, entitled 365 Day Project. Radicalizing the performative dimension already experimented in his previous diary films, the then octuagenarian Mekas – one of the seminal figures of the “New American cinema” – challenged himself to create and publish in his website a short video 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 download in the day of their publication, while later they could be bought for an unexpensive price. Footages were both old and new, creating a fragmented temporality that did not just involve Mekas’ dated and calendarized actions, but also his memories (what the filmmaker was remembering or thinking about that exact day). Mekas defined these videos with the wordplay “eye-pod poems”, a definition that on the one hand indicates the confluence of aesthetic approaches inherent in their form (film-poems, enacting Alexandre Astruc’s prophecy of the caméra-stylo) and showcasing an awareness of the plurality of the then new platforms through which they could be viewed. Some of the footages were not limited to the online viewing, but were also displayed in various exhibitions. Drawing on Henry Jenkins’s theories, in this paper I will analyze Mekas’ online project as an example of transmedia storytelling. Comparing Mekas’ online project with the aesthetic strategies present in Mekas’ diary fims, I will also try to point out that Mekas’ theoretical and practical approach anticipated the modes of self-narration and self-representation of the social media, albeit with an unquestionably lyrical and artistic quality.
Angelo Grossi received his PhD in American literature from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in 2018, with a dissertation that explores David Foster Wallace’s work through the interpretative prism of film theory. His research is generally focused on the cross-fertilization between cinema and contemporary American literature. Upcoming is an article on the use of the cinematic ekphrasis in the work of the Chicano poet Tino Villanueva. He has also recently completed the translation of a philosophical book-length study on the relationship between comedy and philosophy, Comedy, Seriously by Dmitri Nikulin, which will be published soon by Quodlibet.