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3rd Annual Experimental Film Lecture 2010: Ken Jacobs

Ken Jacobs - February 24, 2010

February 24, 2010

The 2010 installment in the Experimental Film Lecture Series, presented in cooperation with Undergraduate Film and Television, brought Ken Jacobs to the Michelson Theatre to present a program of new work.  Jacobs showed a variety of moving image works that showed his current fascination with manipulating, and effectively animating, stereoscopic still images from the late-19th/early 20th century. Two films from his “Capitalism” series are good example of what the filmmaker can pull out of two still, stereoscopic images through editing, cropping, and superimposing the still images.  The main flicker effect occurs through the rapid alternation between the left and right eye images, which produces an uncanny, quasi-3D effect.  In addition to these works, Jacobs presented works shot in Spain with his family using a special stereoscopic digital camera, as well as a “found-footage” piece acquired from a disintegrating broadcast transmission.  This last piece, “My Favorite Wife and Other Amorous Scenes,” is comprised of a recording the filmmaker made off of his satellite television receiver during a thunderstorm.  The electrical interference causes the broadcast of a Cary Grant film “My Favorite Wife” (1940) to intermittently stop and start, combining adjacent video frames into surreal juxtapositions, and creating an unintended awkwardness in the interaction of the characters, as their dialogue skips and chirps.   

Ken Jacobs has been making avant-garde film in New York City since the late 1950s.  He is the director of “Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son” (1969), and “Star Spangled to Death”(2004), and numerous other cinematic visions on celluloid and tape.  Jacobs, who taught for many years in SUNY Binghamton’s renowned program on avant-garde film, coined the term “paracinema” in the early 1970s to describe experiences provided by means outside of standard cinematic technology.  Stroboscopic effects, manipulating frame rates, freeze-frames, and 3D experiments all show up in his practice of “paracinema”.  This event was very well attended, and the Cinema Studies Department looks forward to hosting the Experimental Lecture Series into the future.