Ken Jacobs, the erstwhile master of experimental celluloid filmmaking, fully embraces video technology in this reworking of the 1929 Laurel and Hardy film Berth Marks. Prior to this digital version, Jacobs presented this film as one of his live "nervous system" performances, projecting identical overlapping frames in a slightly asynchronous manner to create the illusion of three-dimensional effects. This creation carries the filmmaker's live performances into the digital realm through a patent-pending "Eternalism" technique, which doesn't require Jacobs' physical presence at each projection.
In Ontic Antics, Jacobs extends his ongoing exploration of the teeming depths of life contained within individual frames of film. In the first section of this three-part film, Jacobs radically reworks this original sequence of Laurel and Hardy film, so that they end up flipping and twirling around each other. The second section plays back the original film in its entirety. The viewer suddenly realizes how movement, space, and time have been radically transformed by Jacobs' creative vision. In the final part of the film, the iconic images of Laurel and Hardy struggle to resolve themselves against the prominence of the digital pixels. The experience is further enhanced by the use of individual dark filters creating a 3-D effect. Welcome to the electronic universe of Ken Jacobs.
Born in Brooklyn in 1933, Ken Jacobs studied painting with Hans Hofmann before turning to experimental and avant-garde film in 1955, a genre in which he quickly became a seminal figure. His magnum opus Star-Spangled to Death (1957/2003) stars the late Jack Smith and takes on fifty years of hypocritical US culture. Jacobs is also known for his "film performances," in which he uses a pair of projectors collectively titled The Nervous System to juxtapose frames of preexisting film. Other highlights of his filmography include Little Stabs at Happiness (1958-60), Blonde Cobra (1959-63), Tom, Tom the Piper's Son (1969-71), Perfect Film (1985), and Flo Rounds a Corner (1999). Jacobs' work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of the Moving Image, the Whitney Biennial, and the New York, Berlin, and London Film Festivals. He recently retired as Distinguished Professor of Cinema from the SUNY-Binghamton film program he founded in 1969.