Anthology Film Archives presents “Abstract Expressionist Cinema: Ken Jacobs/Nervous Magic Lantern Festival” this Jan

This January, as the first installment in what will be a once-a-calendar tribute to Ken Jacobs throughout 2016, Anthology Film Archives hosts an expansive Nervous Magic Lantern Festival, curated by the ensemble diNMachine. The series will feature an incredible array of live performances from some of the most daring musicians working in New York today. In addition to diNMachine (whose forthcoming full length album “The Opposites of Unity” is out January 22 via Greedy Dilettante Records), performers will include guitar genius and drone meister Robert Poss; renowned composer/producer/performer JG Thirlwell (Foetus); fearless new music ensemble Flux Quartet; Swedish composer/performer Adrian Knight with David Lackner and Max Zuckerman (Blue Jazz TV, Synthetic Love Dream); Victoria Keddie, Co-Director of E.S.P. TV; experimental audio composers Rick Reed & Tara Bhattacharya; new-wave proto-punk voice and violin duo Sarah Bernstein & Stuart Popejoy; melodic explorers Collapsible Shoulder; champions of structured and improvised rhythm, drone, and noise Padtech; unique sound-exploration trio The Ghosts of the Holy Spermic Brotherhood; and textural electronic noise composer Patrick Todd.


The festival will take place on the evenings of Jan22, Jan23 and Jan24, with four artists/groups performing each night. Each artist/group will take the stage for a 20-minute set, during which Jacobs will project live with the Nervous Magic Lantern system. Each evening will also feature an immersive video installation created by artist Ursula Scherrer, as well as the film RE: ENACT by Ron Amstutz (featuring music by Michael Schumacher), which will be screened following the intermission.

Ken Jacobs has long been a restless innovator, and his rebellious projection performance apparatus known as the Nervous Magic Lantern is a development that would not have been out of place in the pre-cinematic era of prestidigitation and exotic attractions. Working without film or electronics, the Nervous Magic Lantern uses lightweight fans and an exterior spinning shutter – along with the hands and creative mind of an active projectionist – to fill the screen with moving 3D forms that can be seen from every possible angle, no special glasses required. A breathtaking and all-around mystifying head/body experience, Jacobs surmises that, “It’s the cinema that should’ve happened following live shadow play.” After years of committed research and development, it is clearer than ever before that Jacobs’s Nervous Magic Lantern is a direct outgrowth from his early training in the 1950s with abstraction pioneer Hans Hofmann. In a sense, this latest body of work is as much a return to painting as it is another step deeper than ever before into the depths of the moving image.

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For an extended text by Ken Jacobs on the Nervous Magic Lantern system, click here.

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