Dir: Ken Jacobs
Mon 17.02. 17:00 Akademie der Künste
THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL (A FLICKER OF LIFE) is based on a film recording of a Mardi Gras street parade in Philadelphia in 1905. Two shots (from the same camera position) of floats and costumed people prancing by. The original, of course, is in black and white, but this shifts in the course of the performance from warmer and cooler off-white/black colors (as phantom, or optical, chroma register on the brain though no actual color is on the film) to increasingly extreme color fields produced by laboratory printing through combinations of color filters. Various kinds of combinations of the simultaneous double-projection of both positive and negative filmprints produce solarization effects, and a low-relief illusion of the objects pictured.
A special exterior shutter in front of and between the two stop-motion analytic 16mm projectors commences to spin about ten minutes into the work, and continues for about twenty minutes. This is the technique at the heart of THE NERVOUS SYSTEM, producing a spectrum of impossible-in-life and normally impossible-on-screen movements in depth and time. Results occur unique to the particular film images chosen for each work, and that is certainly the case here. Depth contracts and expands enormously, angle of view changes disorientingly, speed of movement of objects pictured accelerates from glacial to turbine relentlessness. The peak image here is of a float approaching, filling the screen, swinging past our view; men in KKK-type shrouds surround and support the apron of the float.
Exterior shutter stops alternating and flickering the images as the second shot of the parade comes on, mostly of people wildly dancing over the pavement. Again, as the performance began, both a positive and a negative print are superimposed onscreen in various degrees of synchronization, but now we've broken into an intense color-play between a fully saturated yellow and a blue that never really decides what color it really is as it keeps reacting to the more dominant yellow. Greens are generated, vermillion, pinks appear that were never actually printed on film.
Last part. A recapitulation of what we've seen, but this time the two prints simultaneously projected split and shift to left and right in mirror reflection of each other, slightly overlapping in the center. The same elusive blue now opposes a spectrum red. The ground-color to the left is red, to the right, blue. The center overlapping band appears white/pink. Clangorous joyful sound accompanies this final procession. The dancing figures that meet their color opposites at - and disappear into - the pink center band, can be seen both as flat color figures projecting forward of a color-ground, and as cut-in holes - in the form of figures - piercing a color-ground.
THE MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL evokes Toulouse-Lautrec, Seurat, Winsor McCay. Crowd noises, noisemakers, eerie (the image is often very spooky) as well as festive music fills the theater throughout the entire work.
What I'm trying to do is shape a poetry of motion, time/motion studies touched and shifted with a concern for how things feel, to open fresh territory for sentient exploration, creating spectacle from dross, delving and learning beyond the intended message or cover-up, seeing how much history can be salvaged when film is wrested from glib twenty-four frames per second. Advanced filmmaking leads to Muybridge.
Ken Jacobs was born May 25th, 1933 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He attended the High School of Industrial Arts and often visited the film screenings of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Acquaintance with George Grosz. Served at the US Coast Guard. In 1955 he continued to study painting in New York, from 1956 he studied with Hans Hoffmann. In 1956 he befriended the filmmaker Jack Smith. First films and first attempts in silhouette theater. Founded the Millenium Film Workshop in New York. Taught film studies at the St. Johns University. In 1969 he founded the film department at the State University of New York in Binghamton together with Larry Gottheim. From 1971 to the present he has been professor of film in Binghamton. In 1986 he was a guest of the DAAD (Berlin Artist's Program). In 1996 his work was shown in a comprehensive film retrospective in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
1956: Orchard Street. 1957: Saturday Afternoon Blood Sacrifice; T.V. Plug; Little Cobra Dance. 1958-60: Little Stabs at Happiness; Star Spangled to Death (unvollendet). 1960-63: Blonde Cobra. 1963: Baud'larian Capers. 1964: Window. 1964/85: The Winter Footage (8mm/16mm). 1965: Lisa and Joey in Connecticut, January '65; ,You've Come Back' ,You're Still Here'. 1964-66/88: The Sky Socialist (8mm/16mm). 1967: Air Shaft. 1968: Soft Rain. 1969: Tom, Tom the Piper's Son; Nissan Ariana Window; Globe. 1975: Urban Peasants. 1978: The Doctor's Dream. 1985: Perfect Film. 1986: The Alps and the Jews (work-in-progress). 1987: Jerry Takes a Back Seat, Then Passes Out of the Picture. 1989: Opening the Nineteenth Century: 1896. 1991: Keaton's Cops. 1995: The Georgetown Loop; Disorient Express
Theaterarbeiten mit Schattentheater oder Filmen/Theater Works, all involving shadowplay or film)
1965: The Big Blackout of '65: Chapter One "Thirties Man" . 1970: Restful Moments (2- and 3-dimensional shadowplay). 1972: A Good Night for the Movies: 4th of July by Charles Ives by Ken Jacobs. 1974: A Man's Home is His Castle Film: The European Theater of Operations; "Slow is Beauty"-Rodin (2- and 3-dimensional shadowplay). 1975: The Boxer Rebellion (2- and 3-dimensional shadowplay). 1976: Flop: 4th of July. 1977: Air of Inconsequence (3-dimensional shadowplay). 1979: Ken Jacobs at the console performing Stick to your Carpentry and You Won't Get Nailed. 1994: Audio-Visual Vaudeville (2- and 3-dimensional shadowplay, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder); Audio-Visual Vaudeville (2- and 3-dimensional shadowplay, Cleveland Institute for the Arts, Ohio)
(The Nervous System, a unique double-analysis projector set-up, deriving 3-D from standard 2-D film, most often archival and other found footage)
1975: The Impossible: Chapter One "Southwark Fair" . 1979: The Impossible: Chapter Two "1896". 1980: The Impossible: Chapter Three "Hell Breaks Loose"; The Impossible: Chapter Four "Schilling"; The Impossible: Chapter Five "The Wrong Laurel"; XCXHXEXRXRXIXEXS. 1981: Ken Jacobs Theater of Unconscionable Stupidity Presents Camera Thrills of the War. 1982: The Whole Shebang. 1983: Making Light of History: The Philippines Adventure. 1989: Two Wrenching Departures. 1990: The Subcinema. 1993: New York Ghetto Fish Market 1903. 1994: Bitemporal Vision: The Sea. 1995: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (A Flicker of Life). 1996: Loco Motion; From Muybridge to Brooklyn Bridge
© 1997 by International Forum of New Cinema. All rights reserved.