Samuel Paredes, director of DIARIES (notes and sketches)

by Cristóbal

The artifacts that remain of this artist’s work are compact—a few terabytes of documents, storable in a single hard drive. The artists’ friends relate his obsession with recreating Jonas Mekas’ DIARIES (notes and sketches). His viewing of the Mekas retrospective at Lincoln Center in early 2022 coincided with the introduction of synthetic representation techniques. Emerging from Walter Reade, the artist had felt compelled to describe what he had seen. Such an earnest rendition of domestic life was foreign to him. He began to write, hoping that the black-box would render the imprint left on his mind’s eye. He pirated the film in a measly 480p to step through, frame by frame, and describe the movements of the people, the flickering of the lights, the hazy gouache of film. Friends relate that he would spend whole evenings with a single frame projected on his apartment’s wall, the wall itself plastered in graph paper, to describe with affine accuracy the composition of the frames. The scene descriptions, often hundreds of pages long, were fed into the black-box, which produced a film which was itself projected back onto the wall for inspection. Frustration arose from the imprecision of the prompts. One of the last social events the artist is known to have attended is a reading group of early 60s editions of L’Express. It was then that he began to strip down the language, incorporating the gaze of the camera into an intricate system of object notation. It wasn’t sufficient. If only he could know what Mekas was thinking the instant before capturing those handful of frames on his Bolex, then perhaps he could conjure the words that would induce the film. This is when the artist’s late phase begins. He hires set designers and actors to re-enact scenes from the film, himself occupying the role of Mekas. Long sessions were performed, followed by maniacal bouts of writing. The description was fed back into the black-box, and viewed again. This process continues until the author’s death. Careful to keep track of all of his progress, the artist stored all of his prompts via an open-source versioning system. The git repository is what was found in the hard drive. It is available online on the archive’s website. Our archival team avoids bit rot through periodic replacement and has replicated his work across five different disks, distributed between five cloud service providers.