Filmmaker, photographer, writer, musician, “the prototype of the twenty-first-century man” (according to Alain Resnais), the 90-year-old Chris Marker is recognized as all of these things. But animal lover needs to be on that list, as well. Upon being asked for a photograph of himself, the artist has frequently offered up one of his cat, Guillaume-en-egypte, instead. Guillaume is featured in Cat Listening to Music, the first installment of the Bestiaire trilogy. An Owl is an Owl is an Owl is the second of these “video haikus,” and contains no shortage of the titular creature.
The other two thirds of Bestiaire, Cat Listening to Music and Zoo Piece (which features shots of various animals in a zoo), are calming works, with images of their subdued subjects accompanied by slow piano music. An Owl is an Owl is an Owl, on the other hand, is a bit more jarring. During a visit to an aviary, Marker collected footage of owls going about their usual business of staring and occasionally moving their heads, and then edited the shots in rhythm with the electronically manipulated voices on the soundtrack. The results are strange and hypnotic, and reflect a playfulness not always associated with the artist’s work.