Presented by White Light Cinema


February 27th, 2009

For more than fifty years Ken Jacobs has been at the forefront of experimental filmmaking. From his early anarchist-comic films with Jack Smith and others, to portraiture, quasi-structural works, audacious epics, live cine-performances, and now digital investigations his works have managed to stay exciting, inspired, and relevant. His classic Tom, Tom the Pipers Son has been named to the National Film Registry; his recent Star Spangled to Death and Razzle Dazzle were named best experimental works by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the National Society of Film Critics, respectively; and his early short Little Stabs at Happiness will be included on the impressive DVD set “Treasures IV: Avant-Garde American Film 1947-1986,” coming out in March from the National Film Preservation Foundation. Jacobs and his wife Flo recently co-starred in their son Azazel Jacobs’ acclaimed feature Momma’s Man.

This program, admittedly a hodge-podge, features two of his lesser-known 16mm films and a stunning recent digital video.

WINDOW (1964, 12 mins., 16mm, color, silent)
“The moving camera shapes the screen image with great purposefulness, using the frame of a window as fulcrum upon which to wheel about the exterior scene. The zoom lens rips, pulling depth planes apart and slapping them together, contracting and expanding in concurrence with camera movements to impart a terrific apparent-motion to the complex of the object-forms pictured on the horizontal-vertical screen, its axis steadied by the audience’s sense of gravity. The camera’s movements in being transferred to objects tend also to be greatly magnified (instead of the camera the adjacent building turns). About four years of studying the window-complex preceded the afternoon of actual shooting (a true instance of cinematic action-painting). The film exists as it came out of the camera barring one mechanically necessary mid-reel splice.” (KJ)

GLOBE (1971, 22 mins, 16mm, color, sound on cassette)
“Flat image (of snowbound suburban housing tract) blossoms into 3D only when viewer places Eye Opener before the right eye. (Keeping both eyes open, of course. As with all stereo experiences, center seats are best. Space will deepen as one views further from the screen.) The found-sound is X-ratable (not for children or Nancy Reagan) but is important to the film’s perfect balance (GLOBE is symmetrical) of divine and profane.” (KJ)

KRYPTON IS DOOMED (2005, 34 mins., video, sound, color)
“This work is derived from one of my Nervous Magic Lantern performances, which are created with a hand-manipulated projector and use neither film nor video. Highly stroboscopic and hallucinatory, these kinetic performances result in otherworldly spaces and plays of near-abstraction and suggestive imagery. In Krypton Is Doomed, the audio accompaniment to the shifting visuals is an installment of a Superman radio play – the first ever broadcast, in 1940.” (KJ)

Very Special Thanks to Dave Dobie and Joe Jeffers for hosting the screening.

Filed under: film, video