Ken Jacobs

Ken
Jacobs

“Eisenstein said the power of film was to be found between shots. Peter Kubelka seeks it between film frames. I want to get between the eyes, contest the separate halves of the brain. A whole new play of appearances is possible here.”

One of the founders of the American avant-garde cinema, Ken Jacobs has been working ceaselessly and boundlessly in film, video and moving image performance for over fifty years.

Films

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    Let There Be Whistleblowers
    Experimental

    Let There Be Whistleblowers
    Ken Jacobs

    DVD, sound, 18 min
    Rental format: DVD NTSC
    • Films About Film
    • Appropriation / Detournement
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    Opening The Nineteenth Century:  1896
    Experimental

    Opening The Nineteenth Century: 1896
    Ken Jacobs

    16mm, black and white, sound, 9 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Whirled, The (aka Four Shorts of Jack Smith)
    Experimental

    Whirled, The (aka Four Shorts of Jack Smith)
    Ken Jacobs

    DVD 16mm, color and b/w, sound, 19 min
    Rental formats: 16mm, DVD NTSC
    • Arts / Artists
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    Blonde Cobra
    Experimental

    Blonde Cobra
    Ken Jacobs

    16mm, color and b/w, sound, 33 min
    Rental formats: 16mm, DVD NTSC
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    Little Stabs At Happiness
    Experimental

    Little Stabs At Happiness
    Ken Jacobs

    16mm, color, sound, 15 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Baud'larian Capers
    Experimental

    Baud'larian Capers
    Ken Jacobs

    16mm DVD, color, sound, 15 min
    Rental formats: 16mm, DVD NTSC
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    Window
    Experimental

    Window
    Ken Jacobs

    16mm, color, silent, 12 min
    Rental format: 16mm
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    Sky Socialist, The
    Experimental

    Sky Socialist, The
    Ken Jacobs

    16mm, color, sound, 90 min
    Rental format: DVD NTSC
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    Airshaft
    Experimental

    Airshaft
    Ken Jacobs

    16mm, color, silent, 4 min
    Rental format: 16mm

Biography

"One of the founders of the American avant-garde cinema, Ken Jacobs (b. 1933) has been working ceaselessly and boundlessly in film, video and moving image performance for over fifty years. Jacobs began working in a mode of guerilla cinema, shooting anarchic and exuberant – yet also politically astute – theatrics in the streets of his native New York in the early 1950s, including a number of prescient and Beat infused works – Little Stabs at Happiness, the shorts included in The Whirled – made with a very young Jack Smith.

Fascinated with early cinema and experimental film from a young age, Jacobs gradually turned to found footage as a dominant inspiration, a breakthrough marked by his seminal deconstruction of cinematic narrative and illusionism Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son (1969), which famously manipulates and expands a 1905 film of the same name to create a breathless and revelatory work of pure cinema. Early “primitive” cinema, and increasingly, nineteenth century photography, has remained a touchstone in Jacobs’ work and a principal tool to launch an extended critique of the aesthetic, ideological and technological limits defining film and the cinematic apparatus itself. In the 1970s Jacobs took this critique to another level, defining what he termed “paracinema,” a radical mode of moving image performance that included his Nervous System Performances, transformative film experiences that use two simultaneous 16mm projectors and a variety of live sound and music to explore those audio-visual dimensions hidden within the film strip. Endlessly curious about technology, Jacobs embraced the possibilities of video in a meeting of the digital, early film/photography and 3-D imagery that magically bridges the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries and has given way to such powerful and sublimely beautiful works as Krypton is Doomed, and, most recently, Razzle Dazzle: The Lost World. Among Jacobs’ most important inventions is his Nervous Magic Lantern, a mysterious and mesmerizing performance of light and shadow that returns to cinema’s most essential roots, and which he evocatively describes as 'cinema without film or electronics.'" - Harvard Film Archive

Archive

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    33:07

    MM Serra interview with Ken Jacobs #1

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    30:06

    MM Serra interview with Ken Jacobs #2