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Ken Jacobs

The Guests

July 27, 2017 – November 12, 2017

A pioneer of the American Neo-Avant-garde film scene in the 1960s and 70s, Ken Jacobs is a central figure in post-war experimental cinema. After becoming an integral part of legendary collectives like the Film-Makers’ Cooperative and The Bleecker Street Cinema, in 1966 he and his wife Flo Jacobs founded Millennium Film Workshop and the cinema department at Binghampton University. Driven by an abiding interest in the act of viewing and the spectator’s relationship with the image, in 1971 Jacobs produced Tom, Tom the Piper’s Son, a two-hour film based on a ten-minute short from 1905. In the mid-1990s, the artist began to develop the concept of “eternalism,” based on creating illusions of three-dimensionality by manipulating the light and speed of ordinary images. The Guests (2013) is among his most recent creations and has been hailed by critics as one of his masterpieces. The foundation of this work is one of the first films made by the Lumière brothers, showing wedding guests filing into a church in late 19th-century Paris. After physically dissecting the original film, Jacobs cut and reconstructed the reel in stereoscopic format. When viewed with 3D glasses, the odd and even-numbered frames, projected separately, form a three-dimensional image in the spectator’s mind. The slow, drawn-out pace of the action and the rediscovered depth of a historic and now inaccessible place elevate the Lumières’ original footage to a plane beyond the cinematographic document, turning it into a direct, hypnotic experience of the mystery of the image.

Exhibition organized by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Ken Jacobs
The Guests, 2013 (still)
3D film, color
74 min.
Courtesy the artist