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Alternative Visions

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
7:30 p.m. Nervous Magic Lantern Performance: Towards the Depths of the Even Greater Depression
Ken Jacobs (U.S., 2009)

Ken Jacobs in Person


“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.”—Ken Jacobs

Ken Jacobs has been creating films, videos, and moving image performances for over fifty years, often drawing on early cinema and found images. Tonight is a rare opportunity to see a live performance of one of Jacobs’s marvelous inventions, the Nervous Magic Lantern, which uses pre-cinema technology to create startling, mesmerizing images. Jacobs writes: “Abstraction can offer the opportunity to meet and grapple directly with risky situations, taking real chances instead of identifying with some actor-proxy on a movie-set. The viewer of Nervous Magic Lantern phenomena plunges, hovers, sinks, and rises into illusionary deep space. The question of what we are looking at, tantalizingly suggestive as appearances might be, becomes of less urgency than from where in space we are viewing and where and of what consistency and shape and size is the mass confronting us at any one moment, and when and how did it become what a moment ago it was not. It might be best to think of what you and others see as a group hallucination. My self-constructed ‘lantern’ utilizes neither film nor video.”

Ken Jacobs will present a program of his 2009 short videos at San Francisco Cinematheque on October 6. For further information, visit www.sfcinematheque.org.

• (c. 60 mins, B&W/Color)

Preceded by 3-D shorts:
Opening the 19th Century: 1896 (Ken Jacobs, U.S., 1990). Jacobs draws on Lumière Brothers footage shot from trains. (11 mins, Silent, B&W, 16mm)
Capitalism: Child Labor (Ken Jacobs, U.S., 2006). A stereograph documenting factory production of thread. (14 mins, Music by Rick Reed, Color, Digital video)

• (Total program time: 85 mins plus discussion)