Franziska Bruckner (physically present) & Ken Jacobs (virtually present)
Frame by Frame: The Animated Avantgarde of Ken Jacobs
Ken Jacobs film, Ronald Gonzales, Sculptor (2009), starts in an ordinary documentary format: A man goes through a door, pets his dog in the garden and looks for stones besides the railway tracks. A train is moving by and suddenly something odd happens: The movement of the train seems somehow disrupted as if it was stuck in a loop. Then it moves on, only to get stuck again. This time, with the use of an additional digital zoom, enlarging a railway worker. At least by then the warning at the beginning of the film which says "Warning: throbbing light not for persons afflicted with epilepsy" makes sense.
Looking at Ken Jacobs other work like Tom, Tom, the Piper´s Son (1969) or New York Getto Fish Market (2006) one should not be surprised. This kind of manipulation such as freezing frames or replaying certain sequences over and over again is one of the artist´s basic forms for working with film footage, whether it is recorded or found. If you take P. Adam Sitney´s definition of structural film, as in "the flicker effect", "loop printing" or "rephotography of the screen", then Jacobs´ work meets the characterisations quite well. Therefore his films are considered to be among the most provocative and innovative within the avantgarde and experimental film world, along with Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas or Peter Kubelka. Jacobs is not only a filmmaker, but has been trained as a painter which naturally affects his perspective on filmmaking:
"And I´m looking for things that literally you just don´t see when it zips by at twenty-four frames per second, normal sound speed. Film is a relation of frame to frame to frame, and I am also declaring relations of one frame with another frame. I want to see what can be done between those two. (...)" (Ken Jacobs Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley, October 14th, 1999)
He analyses film by looking closely at each frame, he animates filmstills by projecting the same picture twice onto the same spot and then dividing those frames with a propellor. In this way the sensibility he brings both to filmmaking and to painting, links the two forms in his work.