Anthology Film Archives


May 13 – May 19

As the 3-D craze continues to sweep through our nation’s multiplexes, we here at Anthology have seen fit to focus attention on an artist – one of the giants of avant-garde cinema – who has been exploring the possibilities of three-dimensional filmmaking since long before Hollywood dusted the process off and rebooted it for the purposes of high-powered distraction. Ken Jacobs’s experiments with the possibilities of illusionary depth stretch all the way back to the late 1960s, and in the last decade he has devoted himself to exploring the phenomenon, creating dozens of moving-image works, both shorts and features, that utilize various methods of producing three-dimensional effects. Standing in stark contrast to Hollywood’s efforts to squeeze some (any) kind of response out of jaded moviegoers benumbed by decades of big-budget spectacles, Jacobs’s profound fascination with the idea of filmic depth speaks to a commitment to expand our senses and our conception of the movie-watching experience – a conviction that the cinema can foster expanded perception, not just sensation.
This series offers a very rare chance to experience an exhilarating variety of Ken Jacobs’s utterly original 3-D work. Featuring three nights of live Nervous Magic Lantern performances, a revival of a 35mm slide-based piece from the mid-1980s, and a host of short and feature-length 3-D pieces from throughout his career, these shows will survey a body of work which forms a conception of 3-D filmmaking undreamed of in the multiplexes!

“Yes, 3-D illusion had grabbed me, visually and aurally, though not in the way it usually interests others; it wasn’t so much fidelity to nature but unnatural depth phenomena that drew me on, the tricks that could be played on the mind when, as I put it then, one stepped between the eyes. …
“My pieces almost always veer into and out of 2-D. 2-D is a remarkable invention, crazier than most anything that can happen in 3-D. Imagine the world flattened to a single insubstantial plane, a mere surface reflection! I must look into it. But can’t.”

This film series is timed to coincide with the publication of OPTIC ANTICS: THE CINEMA OF KEN JACOBS. Edited by Michele Pierson, David E. James, and Paul Arthur, and published by Oxford University Press, it is the first book dedicated to Jacobs’s work, and includes essays by prominent film scholars along with photographs and personal pieces from artists and critics. Please join us for a book launch party following the 5:45 screening on Saturday, May 14, with Ken Jacobs, David E. James, and Michele Pierson.

Special thanks to Ken & Flo Jacobs, and to Shannon McLachlan (Oxford University Press).

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