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Ken Jacobs

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

Ken Jacobs reduces cinema to its essential ingredients, creating “film-performances” that are at once seductive and radically disorienting. A veteran Modernist who studied painting with Hans Hofmann before becoming a filmmaker, Jacobs is best known for influential avant-garde works such as Blonde Cobra, 1958–63—which reworked footage from an unfinished film starring Jack Smith—and Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son, 1969, an extended, revelatory examination of a ten-minute 1905 film from the Edison studios based on a nursery rhyme. The making of Tom, Tom (which Jacobs described as “a frantic dig to and glad return from the edge of the abyss within cinematic illusion”) led to the invention, during the ’70s, of his “Nervous System”—two analytic stop-motion projectors equipped with a single revolving exterior shutter—an apparatus that yields shifting depth effects and a stroboscopic flicker when two

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