Filmmaker Jonas Mekas Skypes with Hans Ulrich Obrist about the rise of the .net generation

Document is very sorry to hear of the passing of the wonderful and revolutionary Jonas Mekas, known as the godfather of American avant-garde cinema, who we had the pleasure of featuring in Issue No.6.

Rightly known as the godfather of American avant-garde cinema, Jonas Mekas has inspired the careers of artists and directors from Andy Warhol to Martin Scorsese. A pioneer of the video diary and the founder of the Anthology Film Archives, Mekas, now 92, has set to work building the largest cinema library in the US. Mekas catches up with Hans Ulrich Obrist from his loft in Brooklyn to discuss being from a pre-radio generation and witnessing the internet generation, why he’s not an archivist, and his pantheistic roots.

Hans Ulrich Obrist—Hello! Jonas!

Jonas Mekas—Yes, I can hear you, but I don’t see you. Can you see me?

Hans Ulrich—I see you. Do you see me?

Jonas—No, I do not see you. I can see you in my mind [laughs].

Hans Ulrich—That’s strange.

Jonas—Oh, now I see you!

Hans Ulrich—You see me?

Jonas—And I hear you!

Hans Ulrich—We are almost ready, Jonas! How are you?

Jonas—So far so good. We have a comparatively nice early January day in Brooklyn. That’s where I am—in Brooklyn.

Hans Ulrich—You are in Brooklyn, I am in London, so this is a London/ Brooklyn interview. Can you tell me what you have been working on today? What are you working on right now?

Jonas—I am slowly every day putting some time into organizing all my materials around me. It’s a huge job because I have so much stuff. That’s why some people call me an archivist. But I am not an archivist, as I do not collect stuff: I only do not throw out anything that comes into the house. That’s why I have so much stuff. But the reason why I do not throw out anything is that everything that comes into my loft immediately becomes part of my working materials, even if I do not know what and when I will need it. So that’s what I was doing right now, organizing. But mostly this year I’ll be working on building a library for Anthology Film Archives, a paper materials library. I am going to build it on top of the present building. This will be probably the largest such library—a library devoted to cinema—in the States. But it’s a six million dollar project so it may take me some time to do it. Is there anyone who wants to build it? We’ll put your name on it! And next to Anthology I am going to build a café, Heaven and Earth Café, named so in honor of Harry Smith. It will serve our patrons and the neighborhood. It will provide additional income to Anthology Film Archives which is operating at a deficit. So my work this year will be mostly fund raising. But while I do that, I’ll be also finishing final touches on a huge 1,200 page volume of five decades of my written diaries.

Hans Ulrich—Can you tell me about the most recent entries to your video diary?

Jonas—Every week I put on my website one or two new diaristic pieces about what’s happening around my life. Yes, I continue doing that.

Hans Ulrich—So it’s like an ongoing video diary?

Jonas—Yes. Sketches, notes. Some new, some old. I have so much old video material that is unique as history.

Hans Ulrich—Can you tell me about the most recent entries? Of January? It’s nice to mark that moment, the beginning of a new year.

Jonas—What I am going to put on my website today—I hope I’ll have time to finish it today—but it may not appear on my website until tomorrow—is my visit to St. Petersburg. Actually, it took place in September 2013. But I am putting it on the website today because I was just reminded, reading this Sunday’s London FT, that it’s the 100th anniversary of Malevich’s Black Square. So I remembered my St.Petersburg footage. The occasion was the opening of George Maciunas’ exhibition, Russian Atlases, and my 365 Day Project exhibition at the State Hermitage Museum’s newly built contemporary art wing. After the opening, Mikhail Piotrovsky, the Director of Hermitage, wanted to show me something. He took me to an adjacent gallery room, and there, right in front of my eyes, on the wall, there it was: Malevich’s Black Square! Right there. Someone had just donated it to Hermitage. And there it was, in its full humble fragile black glory. I must tell you one anecdote related to this exhibition. You see, all the stuff from my personal Fluxus collection a few years ago ended up in Vilnius, Lithuania. The Hermitage Fluxus show was a selection from that collection. And one of the pieces that Piotrovsky decided to include in the exhibition was a huge die (dice), you know, one that you throw, roll in some games. George had made it from wood for one of his Fluxus games. After George died, it ended up in my loft. It sat there for years collecting dust, the children and the cats used to hide in it, before I sent it to Vilnius. So now it was at the Hermitage and there was Piotrovsky, and there was me, and there was this huge wooden dice, now clean and in a museum situation. So I said, “Yes, but you can also open the top and get into it, if you want.” And I began opening it, and Piotrovsky said, “No, don’t touch it, don’t touch it!” [Laughs.] Because now it was upgraded to the status of art and it was clean, you weren’t supposed to touch it…That’s what happens with the pieces that are in your private home and then at some point they end up in a museum and they become something else. I thought it was a really funny situation.

Hans Ulrich—Obviously you anticipated a lot of what’s happening now with digital technology: the blogs, the video blogs, through your diaries. Do you remember how you invented this idea of doing a video diary? How did it come to you?

Jonas—The initial idea was just to put on the website a few pieces and try to sell them via website. But it didn’t work, the process was too complicated. But it made me interested in the possibilities of a short form. Next I made 40 short pieces using mostly old footage, as an exercise in short film form. That was in December of 2006. January was coming. So as a joke, I said, “OK, beginning January 1st I should make one short film every day and see if I can do it.” As said, so done. And that’s how it began. Once I began, I could not stop. And I didn’t miss a single day the entire year 2007. I am still continuing, but not with same crazy intensity. Now I put only one or two pieces weekly on my website.

Hans Ulrich—And early on, you already did something which now in our digital age is extremely widespread and actually rejects this idea of time being linear in a way. I am sort of wondering what prompted that, I mean Manuel De Landa talks about a thousand years of non-linearity. What prompted you in non-linearity?

Jonas—Theoretical thinking is not my stuff. I am still a farmer. I refer to myself as a farmer boy. I am down to earth, practical, dealing only with what’s in front of me. I never think about time, linearity, practically or theoretically. Time does not exist to me and memory does not exist to me either, because all the materials that are in my house, all the books, what’s written in them, all the documentation, all the junk that I have and all the video cassettes and film reels they are all materials, they are not memories to me, they are working materials, and I work with them. Like when I go and film in the street, there is a reality there and there is me filming, taping it. It’s all real. The same when I begin to work with what is on the shelf: I pick up a roll of film or a video cassette and I am working with it, here and now. Or I open a book: what’s in it is all real. And now.

Hans Ulrich—When we met for the first time in Paris—thanks to agnès b. 20 years ago—you said that you never film the past, that you cannot film the past, that you don’t want to film the past, that you are always in the present. Then obviously you have a huge archive now of many decades of past footage, but in this footage…

Jonas—You know, I believe that even what we call “memory” and “thoughts” they are also real, “physically” real; they are also my working material. Memory is as much a matter as any piece around me [Knocks on the table]. No thing is “nothing”.

Hans Ulrich—That is such a beautiful sentence!

Jonas—By the way, since we are talking, I want to ask you about talking: What do you think about what Matisse once said that one who wants to be an artist, the first thing he has to do is to cut out his tongue? You are interviewing, you are talking to so many artists. But don’t you think that all this talking is really… just talking? Because I know that I am not answering the same questions the same way as I was answering them ten years ago. I am answering
them completely differently, sometimes in total opposite. So it’s just talking…

Hans Ulrich—For me it started when I read the interview with Francis Bacon and David Sylvester, and it was such an amazing document which somehow got me into art.

Jonas—But it’s always a reflection of the period when that talking is taking place, and with what the artist is doing at that time, so of course, it has validity…

Hans Ulrich—Of course Matisse, you know there is a big book of Matisse interviews which now came out. It was a Swiss critic who went to interview him, but at the end Matisse decided that he didn’t like to be pinned down, so the book never came out. It only came out now because the copyright had ceded over many decades, so they could publish it. But Matisse objected to the publication; he didn’t want that interview book to be published.

Jonas—So that goes with what you said.

Hans Ulrich—Now also I wanted to ask because we started with January 2015. I was in Paris last week when there was the terrorist attack. I just wanted to see in a way because I remember we discussed terrorism when you were in London a couple of years ago. I wanted to see your reaction to what happened.

Jonas—I may disagree here with some of my friends on this subject. I don’t think this was an attack on free speech: this was a response to an insult. I think that one has to respect, one has to pay consideration to other people’s feelings, be they your neighbors, your compatriots, or people of other countries—especially other countries which have very different social, religious, etc make up. Not to pay attention to it is both impolite and foolish. Or, if calculated,
then close to a provocation and then you have to take what comes. To say that “We are not afraid to laugh at you.” is the same as saying “We are not afraid to insult your feelings, to hurt you.” I do not think much about people who can say that kind of thing. So you see, I have some essential questions re: this subject. I am against unnecessary, insensitive provocations, we have too many of them already.

Hans Ulrich—Now we have also of course an incredible moment in technology once more in 2015. 3D printing takes over and becomes very present. And at the same time we have also the internet of things, objects becoming…

Jonas—I saw the other day on TV, a car, printed out…and it runs!

Hans Ulrich—So I was wondering, you were always ahead of the game, doing things before. How do you feel about these latest developments of technology and if it’s something you use or if you’re interested in it?

Jonas—I am not part of the consumer society, so most of it will be useless to me. But technology cannot be stopped. It’s out of our control. It’s running on its own, with the encouragement of the corporate elite. Have we reached the limits of it? I do not think so. I believe that after we complete harnessing for our daily use the atom, all that quantum engineering can give us, we’ll go beyond the atom, beginning with the “emptiness” in which all those atom particles exist, and beyond. In a way, the computers work already in the area, the suburbs of the “spirit:” we don’t see it, we only know it’s there because it works…The spirit works!

Hans Ulrich—Now another thing which is interesting in this generation. Simon Castets and I are doing a mapping of all these artists of the 89plus generation who grew up with digital technology. Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet in 1989 which is also the year the Berlin Wall fell. It’s Tiananmen Square. It’s the year the first GPS satellite was launched. So we started to do this project where I am making a cartography, a mapping of a generation of artists who are born with the internet—the first digitally native generation. We have mapped so far more than 5000 artists of this generation in their early or mid 20s, and one of the patterns we have observed— which are very fascinating—is that there is a big return to poetry. A lot of artists are writing poetry. There are new forms of poetry appearing on the internet, and you’ve always had a very big link to poetry. Czesław Miłosz whom I was friends with gave me text he
wrote on you and told me a lot about your poems, amazing poetry. So I was wondering if you could talk about this aspect of your work because in terms of alternate reality your work as a filmmaker is much more well known.

Jonas—That sounds very illuminating, your digitally native generation project. Yes, poetry is here to stay! The poetic feeling—read Paul Valéry, Edgar Allan Poe—can exist, can make manifest itself in any art, any medium, or life itself. So I am not surprised at all about its emergence on internet, the net poetry. I am all for it. But personally, I have to say, you know that I am not even from the TV generation: I am from the early, primitive radio generation, even before radio. And I grew up with no radio, no TV, no telephone, no electricity…I was like a tabula rasa, technologically, when I was dropped in New York in 1949. Now this, curiously, instead of creating a need for me to attach myself to any one old technology, made me very open to all new technologies. It may have come also from my background, my years of displacement, exile—I am not a settler, I am a vagabond, always moving… But, to cut it short: I see it all
happening, but it’s not always easy for me, me being from before the radio times, to jump into new technologies. So my knowledge of what’s happening in net poetry is very limited. But I think it’s a very open, rich field of activity there, and the net poetry will develop its own, new, forms specific to the medium.

Hans Ulrich—There is an amazing new generation of poets: Andrew Durbin, Luna Miguel, and Bonnie Rogers. There is an amazing generation of new poets emerging on the internet. But you have been writing poetry for long time, and your films are much more known than your work as a poet, however Czesław Miłosz told me, “Mekas is a great poet.” You once said that a haiku is what comes closest to reality.

Jonas—Yes, the condensation of reality—place, time of the day, the weather, and your thoughts, feelings at that moment. When Issa or Basho sits there on that mountain or by the brook somewhere, it’s the same as when now a filmmaker tries to reach a similar state of intensity in some situation. It’s the utmost concentration, the utmost condensation of what one sees, how one feels that moment. That’s a haiku. That’s what my ideal in cinema is.

Hans Ulrich—Exactly, and a haiku comes close to reality. You said it’s about a struggle also with reality and both haiku and the cinema is about this struggle with reality. Can you tell me about this?

Jonas—The struggle is inside, between the content that wants to be “expressed” and search for the form in which it can be “expressed” best. It’s about how to put in words, or on canvas, or on film the essence of that moment, the divinity of that moment. It can drive you to insanity, trying to keep yourself in the most open, highest state of readiness, ready any moment. It’s a dangerous way of life. To really be an artist, a poet, is dangerous.

Hans Ulrich—Another thing which is related to this reality when you talked about reality before and that is also something we wanted to come back to: how things arrive in the world because we still said art happens, and you said reality actually very often jumps at you; it suddenly pops up. It’s unexpected, it’s surprising.

Jonas—Yes. It’s like what one calls empty conversation or small talk. Let’s just talk. As you talk, and it’s about nothing, it’s like you clean yourself out, there’s like a certain emptiness—and then suddenly something jumps into that emptiness, totally unexpected. Very often when I sit down by my typewriter—I still use my Olympia for most of my writing—I know only very vaguely what I have to write, something presses to be written. I know it approximately; I can feel it, but I do not see it clearly yet. So the only thing I can do is just start typing, almost blindly. So you just write, and the typewriter begins to pull you in. And suddenly it all jumps out, and you can barely follow your fingers. It’s the same in filmmaking, painting, and music, I think it’s the same in sciences too, and I’d say in human relationships. By the way, the image of you now on the screen is truncated; it’s not like it was when we began.

Hans Ulrich—You can’t see me anymore?

Jonas—I don’t know if it’s because at my end, the reception, or at your end.

Hans Ulrich—I can see you quite clearly on my screen here. Can you see me?

Jonas—I can see you, but it’s like eight frames per second…[laughs].

Hans Ulrich—If you can hear that’s good, no?

Jonas—Yes, but not that perfectly as at the beginning, there is a bit of distortion in your voice but that’s ok, it’s still understandable.

Hans Ulrich—So can you tell me a little about your work with poems. Because there is a book of your poems and Czesław Miłosz wrote the preface Jonas—Yes, I wrote that cycle of poems when I was 22 or 23 in Germany, in Wiesbaden and Kassel Displaced Persons camps. It’s in Lithuanian. It’s available in German [Matto-Verlag], English [Black Thistle Press and Hallelujah Editions], Japanese, Polish, etc. But that’s one part of my work that I usually do not talk about because who speaks Lithuanian here? But very possibly it’s the best thing I ever did. That’s why I care so little about what I did after. It’s a cycle of 26 poems about life in a small farming village of Semeniskiai where I grew up, describing the work the farmers do during the four seasons. “In free-verse ‘idylls’ that recall Virgil’s Georgics, Hölderlin, Stifter, Clare, Leopardi, Rilke, Pasternak, and William Carlos Williams, and are as direct as cinematography,” quoting John Ashbery. It’s a very factual series of poems, I used to describe them as “documentary poetry,” very much of what I am doing now in cinema: trying not to be “poetic,” same way as now I am trying not to be “cinematic.” Trying to record, almost like an anthropologist, moments where seemingly nothing much happens. The sacredness of the moment…

Hans Ulrich—What do you think is the role of mistakes in all of that? Because Cedric Price, the architect, always said that it’s very difficult now in society to make mistakes, but mistakes are very useful.

Jonas—Yes. Mistakes are very similar or exchangeable with chances. Some of the most beautifully surprising moments in my own filming has happened when, stuck on some one spot, in order to move forward I consciously permitted chances or mistakes to happen. Sometimes I used two cameras: I film and then I put the camera on the shelf until I forget what I filmed with it. Then I pick it up again and film. So the two images connect totally unpredictably. But in architecture, of course, today, with all the money involved, you cannot afford mistakes or take chances. Everything is written down and calculated to the penny. And the possibilities and chances that the computer designing permits are not the same as taking chances, or permitting and using mistakes. That’s why Raimund Abraham, the visionary Austrian architect left Cooper Union when hand drawing was replaced by computer designing. That signified, according to Raimund, abandoning of poetry and personal in architecture.

Hans Ulrich—One thing that is also striking in the new generation of emerging artists of the 89plus generation, I observe that artists are even writers or also poets or architects. So this idea of being in these alternate realities, and you obviously have been doing this a long long time. You know you have been a poet, a filmmaker, a curator, many many different roles. Can you talk a little bit about these alternate realities, and how it comes together, how you fluctuate? It’s almost like in quantum physics; there are parallel realities.

Jonas—And the amazing thing is that, in my case, it didn’t happen “horizontally,” in time, but mostly simultaneously, all at the same time. Like living in a big mansion and just stepping into different rooms. There was a time—in the 60s and 70s—and it continued when I was a curator, running Film-Makers Cinematheque; often I was also the projectionist. I was also writing the weekly “Movie Journal” column in the Village Voice, and publishing Film Culture magazine, and running the Film-Makers’ Cooperative, and acting as the Minister of Propaganda and Minister of Finances. And at the same time, of course, I was writing my poetry and making my films…On any given day, I had to change hats many many times. How did I manage to do it? I don’t know.I simply didn’t think about it. I just did it. With no thinking, no planning. And of course, it was easier to do it all then than now, things were smaller…

Hans Ulrich—Peter Fischli said that with his students and the younger generation of artists, we can observe a return to an almost Fluxus type of spirit, because Fluxus made art out of nothing. Maybe that leads to the question of Fluxus and Pop. I think it is just so interesting. It is interesting also as the only question the Editors of the magazine asked me to ask you is about Fluxus and Pop. Obviously we are do this interview very much about the present because it’s much more interesting than to talk about the past. But it’s the only question about the past because it’s interesting, at the moment there are big shows everywhere about Fluxus and at the same time Jessica Morgan is preparing a big exhibition on global Pop on all continents. A lot of revising of Pop and Fluxus is very much not only part of this but also inspiring, you’ve inspired Fluxus and you’ve inspired Pop, you’ve inspired Warhol and you’ve inspired the Fluxus people. Yoko Ono told me you’ve inspired her generation, but you inspired also Andy Warhol. So for this reason, I wanted to ask you and I promise it’s the only question from the past: Could talk a little about Pop and Fluxus and how you define Pop and Fluxus now?

Jonas—Strange as it may sound to some, I think that there are many similarities between George Maciunas and Andy Warhol. Beginning with their productivity and ending with politics. It’s not very productive to talk about the political art of Lichtenstein or Oldenburg or any other Pop artist, but there is the Electric Chair and the 13 Most Wanted Men of Warhol, and American Flag and the 12! Big Names! of Maciunas. Maciunas was creating his own Fluxus reality, he didn’t care about what was around him, everything that he did was invented, made up, including SoHo. He wanted to change the architecture of New York, to introduce the Japanese architecture, in order “to change the Americans, to make them lighter, to civilize them.” And Andy’s permissiveness, his proverbial YES YES, never NO, came from the same not caring, not giving a damn to what was going around, doing his own thing. Andy had a great
respect for George, he told me that; and George, although more critical of Andy’s work, respected him enough to invite him to his famous dumpling suppers.

Hans Ulrich—So there is actually an encounter somehow?

Jonas—Yes, I think so. And not only in their attitudes: also, as I said, in their productivity and multi-facedness. Just think how many BIG shows have already been of Warhol! And each one revealing always a new face, different aspect of his work, of his oeuvre. And we still haven’t seen the end, we still haven’t really seen his private videos, and heard his thousands of hours of audio tapes, and we have seen only a fragment of Screen Tests, etc etc. Same with Maciunas and Fluxus. Shows are beginning to pop up in various museums, including Hermitage, with always a different focus, and it’s only beginning. And as you and Fischli have noticed, there are neo-Fluxus attitudes popping up on all continents. About how many other artists of the last 50 years can you say that? It’s only Andy and Pop, and George and Fluxus.

Hans Ulrich—I have one or two last questions I was going to ask about religion. Religion is a very big topic now.

Jonas—I have read all the key religious texts, from all the way back: Asian, African, American Indian. Name any, I have them right on my shelf. And all of them, essentially, tell, yes, to worship God is good and to belong to a church, but when it really comes down to it, you are alone—God and you, alone to talk between yourselves. God and yourself. So I never cared about organized religions. Actually, I believe that their contribution to humanity is negative, and these days, maybe even very negative, because—to my standards—they have all become sort of pagan. Myself, you see, I come from pantheistic roots. Lithuania even after it was Christianized in the 15th century and until today remains very much pantheistic; that is in union with Gaia, Earth—its various manifestations, celestial bodies, nature. Of course, even pantheists had certain ceremonies, festivities, but not to the degree that the organized religions have. But I know very little, I have little interest in the rules, ceremonies of organized religions… I would like to tell you one anecdote from my life in Brooklyn, in connection with this subject: I was taking a taxi the other day and the driver happened to be from Bangladesh. So I asked him if he was a Muslim. So he said yes, he was a Muslim. So I said, “How does one become a Muslim? Is it difficult? Do you have to go through some complicated ceremonies?” “No,” he said, “it’s actually very simple: there is a mantra, you recite it, or someone recites it to you, if you don’t know—and you are a Muslim.” So I said, “I am curious what the mantra says. Can you recite it for me?” So he recited it to me, and I said, “It sounds very beautiful!” “Yes?” he said. “So now you are a Muslim,” said the taxi driver [laughs]. That’s how I became a Muslim. A week later I took another taxi. It was another Asian driver. “Are you a Muslim?” I asked. “No,” he said, “I am a Sikh.” So I said, “I don’t know much about the Sikh religion.” “Oh, it’s a very simple religion. Anyone can be a Sikh.” So I said, “What do you have to do to become a Sikh?” ”Nothing much,” said the good Sikh, “You maybe just go to the gatherings sometime. But you don’t have to go, I don’t go,” he said. “I just believe I am a Sikh.” So now I am a pantheist, a Muslim, and a Sikh too [laughs].

Hans Ulrich—That sounds like a great conclusion. I have one last question: A long time ago I asked you about your unrealized projects, and I wanted to ask you again, now in 2015.

Jonas—One of those unrealized projects I was telling you some ten years ago is about to be realized. It’s a 1,200 page volume of my written diaries covering the years from 1950 till 2000. It’s done. Only the photographs are missing. The other one was completion of Anthology Film Archives. The original plans of Raimund Abraham included a paper materials library and a café. I managed to find money only to complete the theater spaces, but now I feel the time has come to complete what I call the “Cathedral of Cinema.” I am going to build two additional library floors on top of the existing structure and a Heaven and Earth Café, dedicated to Harry Smith, on the side of it. It’s a six million dollar project, so it won’t be easy, but it must be done. This is what will be my work for this and probably next year. Is there anyone who wants to have his or her name on the library? What other unrealized projects do I have? When I am 100, I want to go to the Himalayas, to travel to Tibet. We’ll talk about it in 2023, when I come back.

Hans Ulrich—My last question is about the archives. We spoke earlier about the archives, and you once told me that we have a good reason to be paranoid about digital technology because everything might actually disappear. What is your advice for the duration? Because we live in a crazy moment with every year or every couple of years, the formats change, we can’t play old formats anymore, and we’re not sure how long hard drives will last.

Jonas—That is one of the frustrating aspects of the present digital technologies based on corporate profits. We go through great pains at Anthology Film Archives to retransfer, to protect early video artworks. Equipment and formats change, and the materials themselves are fragile. Proper storage, control of humidity and temperature helps, but there are limits. It’s the same with books: A few years ago, in Lisbon, I bought a volume of Petrarca. It is 250 years old, but the paper is perfect. It’s like it was made yesterday. But much of my library from 30 years ago—the new books—their pages are crumbling already.

Hans Ulrich—What’s your advice, Jonas?

Jonas—My advice is to do nothing. Nobody can stop the movement of time and changes of technology. But it’s like with food lately: there are some young people who are beginning to care about what they eat, how the food is produced, etc. The same will happen, and I think already is happening, with the young printers of books. And I wouldn’t worry too much that so much video stuff disappears because of changing technologies. I see it almost as a positive thing. It’s a part of Darwinian law. It will come down to love. What will be retransferred, as technology changes, what will be preserved and exchanged with friends, will be works, videos, pieces that we love and want to resee and exchange. Yes, it will come down to what we love, to love itself.

Hans Ulrich—You also have your beautiful printed still work. Can you talk a little about the role of these stills? We have never really talked about them.

Jonas—Some of my colleagues, filmmakers, they complete a film, and they show it—and that’s it. They see it as almost sacrilegious to do something else with it. But while I leave my films as they are, once I complete them, I continue working with the individual frames of my films. While in a Hollywood movie in the span of 24 frames, there is practically no big change, in my case, within even three frames there are drastic changes because I do a lot of
single frame filming. So there are dynamics between two different frames. That’s what I am interested in. I am interested in exploring that aspect. I have pulled out thousands of three or four frame units and printed them on photographic paper. Especially I find interesting what’s happening when you just snap a face of someone with a still camera, and when you do it with a movie camera, in action. A complete different content is recorded, the result is very very different. So I do a lot of that.

Hans Ulrich—Now my last question is…Rainer Maria Rilke wrote a little book to young poets. What would be your advice to young artists?

Jonas—Just the other day when I was looking through my bookshelves filled with my poetry books, I noticed this great book. I don’t know how and when I got this book, Angel Without a Permit. It is translated from Spanish by Allen Ginsberg. Here it is [Holds the book up to the webcam on Skype]. My advice is all young poets should read this book.

Hans Ulrich—Who wrote it?

Jonas—It’s by Carlos Edmundo de Ory.

Hans Ulrich—Why is it so important?

Jonas—It’s amazing, and is great poetry for anyone to read.

Hans Ulrich—So the advice is to read this book by Carlos Edmundo de Ory.

Jonas—Yes. De Ory. It says Vanguard Edition, Gas Station, New York, 1988. It’s not a new book, but it’s amazing. You see what one can find by chance. It’s really amazing.

Hans Ulrich—Now I have one very last thing. As I continue my project against the disappearance of handwriting on the internet, and you’ve participated before, you wrote: Don’t forget 3:30. That was a mysterious appointment, I don’t know what it was. And you put down a good idea where you actually drew a flower. So I was wondering if you’d talk a little bit about this previous post, and maybe do a new one for me now.

Jonas—What was the last sentence?

Hans Ulrich—What about 3:30? Why shouldn’t we forget 3:30?

Jonas—Oh, it’s very important, 3:30. It could be important!

This article can be found in Document Issue 6