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An interview with Jake Elliott


From 'La Jetee' by filmmaker Chris Marker

So, uh, you were talking about especially daydreaming. Which is maybe a weird space, because you’re awake, aware, lucid, but both nostalgia and memory, and imagination and all, play strong roles in daydreams especially. Because a lot of daydreaming is recollecting, which was something I enjoyed about House in California, was the idea that you could ‘remember’ how to do something, so that you could go on to do it.

And then every screen in Hummingbird Mind was a photograph that had been distorted into a very vague and pixilated image—
—which started me wondering what role memory or remembering plays in your work.

I mean, I feel like ‘memory’ comes up for people in a lot of different media. Filmmakers are always talking about memory. And especially my favorite filmmakers—Chris Marker is one of my favorite filmmakers, and all of his work is about memory—and I don’t know, there’s something about, uh, that is a kind of storytelling space that is really infused with emotions, you know, that appeals to me.

Maybe memory as opposed to history, if you’re looking for a story to tell, the memory version of it is going to be really infused with emotion, and the history version of it is gonna be more kind of anthropological, or more kind of, um, less interesting. Less personal.

I think it was Chris Ware, the comics guy—I wanna say started out as a kind of historian, but was, or maybe I read an essay about history and the role that history played—but I think he was the one who introduced the idea… I’m sure he didn’t introduce this idea, actually…. I heard him say once that—was it him? Was it he? I don’t even know anymore. I don’t know. I think it was.

Something about the way you read a comic book, which is just a movement from frame to frame, really is the same way people remember things. Which is, you know, one frame to the next frame, where they’re loosely linked, but the mind has to hop these gaps. So it’s very, “And then this happened. And then this happened.” And spatially, in a video game, moving from screen to screen, I think I maybe made this very tenuous connection—
That’s an interesting connection, yeah.
—especially in House in California, where, I’m going off to this screen, or space, to go off and remember this thing. And then this happened, and I was in this place. And this happened.

And the verbs in that game, about how you move between the spaces, are supposed to be about the inner process of remembering or, I don’t know, of thinking, of making those connections. Like, what verb you’d be doing, to make those connections, “remembering,” or “writing,” or “reading,” or “listening.” Just, what’s supposed to be kind of happening in your inner life when you’re making connections between these discrete kind of spaces.

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