Matter, Time, and the Digital: Agnès Varda’s Videos
This chapter explores the connections between organic and inorganic matter and digital video aesthetics in Agnès Varda’s documentaries The Gleaners and I (2000) and The Beaches of Agnès (2008) and her video installation Widows of Noirmoutier (2006). In a seeming paradox, all of these works use digital video to depict earthly, embodied, and mortal concerns. They are expressly about aging and memory and the urge to forestall or let go of passing time. The Gleaners and I is a film about salvaging that uses consumer-grade digital equipment to express materialist, feminist, phenomenological, and political concerns. The Beaches of Agnès is a film about memory that, contrary to the digital dream of permanence, total recall, and infinite storage, is underwritten by forgetting and displacement. Varda imagines a form of virtual memory that is involuntary, indirect, and noninstantaneous rather than one modeled on the principle of the database.