Leave it to octogenarian filmmaker Ken Jacobs to drag Anthology Film Archives into the 21st century, inspiring the theater to install its first digital 3D projector “both by the sheer brilliance of his work in this format, and by the more direct and perhaps effective method of applying sustained personal pressure.” So say the program notes for “The Adventures of Ken Jacobs Across the 3rd Dimension,” the second retrospective of Jacobs’s depth-charged work mounted by Anthology in the last decade, and one focused entirely on work created over the last seven years, much of which requires contemporary digital projection equipment to display. The technology represents a commercial exhibitionary insurrection led by films like Hugo and Avatar, although Jacobs says those films “place things in depth but don’t go at depth as a realm to be investigated, toyed with; no mindbenders other than story.”
For Jacobs, depth is both a subject and a tool of investigation. Over the past decade one of his primary instruments has been the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D — a pocket-sized point-and-shoot device that costs less than a third of an iPhone — that indulges the observational, diaristic strand of Jacobs’s work reaching back to his 1955 “Orchard Street.” In tonight’s programs, “Waiting for the Broadway Bus #1-4” contain a quartet of sustained surveys of dimension and image distortion in idle time. (Read: today’s Screen Slate featured screening is three hours of Ken Jacobs waiting for a bus in 3D. See tomorrow for Chopping Mall.) On Wednesday, one of the major works of this period, The Guests, made with Flo Jacobs, treats the Lumière’s 1897 Entrée d'une noce à l'église to a mutable menagerie of flickering illusionary contortions and converted stereoscopic imagery. (For examples, see the gifs on Jacobs’s supremely underrated Twitter account.)
One of the pleasures of any Ken Jacobs screening is typically the presumed appearance of the voluble filmmaker himself, something we in New York are lucky to have. Although the retrospective is midway through, make time to catch a program or two.